About education and career/life planning

Education and career/life planning helps students:

  • develop the knowledge and skills they need to make informed choices for their education, career and life outside school
  • choose the courses and activities that support their goals and interests
  • make a smooth transition to their first postsecondary destination, whether in apprenticeship training, college, community living, university or the workplace

Students can:

  • learn more about themselves and their opportunities
  • set goals
  • make plans to achieve their goals

Students are encouraged to discuss their learning with parents and teachers regularly.

Ontario schools have a variety of programs to help meet the needs, interests and strengths of all students, engaging them in learning and preparing them for graduation, life beyond high school and the jobs of the future. Learn about other programs in schools that help students explore careers.

What students learn

The program teaches students how to understand themselves better and plan for the future. It does this by helping students develop answers to four key questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What are my opportunities?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What is my plan for achieving my goals?

Students explore these questions throughout the program to develop answers that are meaningful to them. By doing this, they gain the knowledge and skills that will help them plan and make decisions about their future.

The table below outlines the skills and knowledge students will gain through each of the key questions.

Key questionsSkills and knowledge area

Who am I?

Knowing yourself
Students identify the qualities that describe who they are. These include their interests, strengths, accomplishments and skills.

What are my opportunities?

Exploring opportunities
Students explore the concept of “opportunity” and how the choices they make can open pathways for them. They learn:

  • how school and community-based opportunities help develop skills and relationships
  • about different occupations and fields of work. They also study
  • how local and global trends affect their opportunities
  • how to identify the skills and experiences they need, and find ways to acquire them

Who do I
want to become?

Making decisions and setting goals
Students identify the demands, rewards and other features of the opportunities they have explored. They think about how these connect with their personal qualities. Students use a decision-making process to determine their education and career/life goals.

What is my plan
for achieving my goals?

Achieving goals and making transitions
Students create a detailed plan of the steps to achieve their goals and identify the resources they will need. They also discover the obstacles and challenges they may face and find solutions that could help to overcome these barriers.

How students develop and apply their learning

Students develop and apply knowledge and skills about education and career/life planning through:

  • classroom activities related to the curriculum
  • school-wide activities like career fairs and postsecondary presentations
  • activities in the community, such as recreational, social, leadership and volunteer activities, and part-time employment
  • programs that offer experiential learning, for example job shadowing, cooperative education, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, Specialist High Skills Majors and dual credit programs.

Recording what students learn

The way that students record their education and career/life planning learning and reflections changes as they progress through the education system.

Kindergarten to grade 6

Students may have an All About Me portfolio, which is a collection of their work and personal reflections. This portfolio may include artwork, tests, video and audio recordings, projects and other items chosen by the student, with the support of the teacher.

Grades 7 to 12

Students record their goals and learning in an Individual Pathways Plan (IPP). The IPP is the main planning tool for students as they move towards the next step after high school. It also provides a valuable archive of their learning and planning resources.

The IPP is web-based software that school boards can choose to use at their schools. My Blueprint and Xello (formerly Career Cruising) are the most common IPP software.

Program roles

Students are responsible for building and updating their portfolios and IPPs with support from their teachers, parents and other caring adults.

Schools must have a clear process in place to help students in grades 7 to 12:

  • create their IPP
  • review and revise it at least twice a year with a parent, guardian or teacher

Additional information

For more details about education and career life planning contact your school’s principal or guidance department. You may also read the Creating Pathways to Success policy.

Learn about the Grade 10 Career Studies course that students must complete to graduate from high school.