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Education & Training

Planning for Post-Secondary: High School Checklists

Start to explore your interests. Would you like to take related courses or activities after high school? Think about whether you want to go to post-secondary or move directly from high school into a job you know you’ll like. These checklists will help keep you focused on your goals.

Jump to:

Grade 10 checklist

Moving into Grade 10:

  • Think about the things you are good at and enjoy doing.
    Tip: Use self-assessment tools to help you figure out what personality type you have, what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in.
  • Explore occupations that relate to what you’re good at and interested in.
    Tip: You can do an interests exercise to get ideas about jobs you may like.
  • Think about choosing challenging courses in school that relate to your personality type, what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in.
  • Begin or update a personal portfolio in which you can collect and organize your work in a simple package.
    Tip: A portfolio will help you do well in an interview because it showcases all your great work.
  • Try getting involved in different activities so you can figure out what you’re good at. You can do this by volunteering, job shadowing, or joining school teams or clubs.
    Tip: Some of these experiences can be added to your portfolio.
  • Do the my abilities exercise. We all have special abilities. The exercise will help you learn which ones can help you in your education, career, or future job.

In second semester of Grade 10:

  • Think about what your focus will be after high school.
  • Begin to research your career path.
    Tip: Whatever career appeals to you, you’re not the first person to be interested in it. Learn what training other people have taken to start on this career path. What steps did they follow? How long did it take them to finish their training?
  • If you need post-secondary training for the career path you’ve chosen, check the admission requirements for the school you’re thinking about and work toward meeting them.
    Tip: You can find the requirements by searching your program of choice on OCCinfo. You can also check in with your guidance counsellor’s office or on the post-secondary school’s website.
  • For many occupations—like being an actor, farming, or working as a power engineer—you don’t always need high school or post-secondary training. But you might need special skills, knowledge, or experience. Start looking into what you need to do to prepare for the job you want.
  • Find out how you can pay for your education after high school. For some occupations, you can even start applying for scholarships and bursaries
  • Continue to think about your interests and strengths. Your family, friends, and teachers know you well. Ask them what they think you’re good at.
    Tip: Use self-assessment tools to get tips on how to discover your strengths, interests, and personality type.
  • Explore occupations that relate to your interests and strengths. Dig deeper into the occupations that interest you by getting details on what you can expect to be doing every day.
    Tip: Try getting involved in different activities like volunteering, job shadowing, joining school teams or clubs, or attending job fairs to help you discover what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at.
  • Do the my abilities exercise again. Doing the exercise every few months can help keep you focused on your strengths.

Grade 11 checklist

Check out the careers and occupations that match your interests. Make sure you know what courses and other learning you need for the programs you’ll be applying to or the job you want after high school. The choices you make now can open up your choices for the future:

  • Continue building your portfolio. A portfolio will help you do well in an interview because it showcases all your great work.
    Tip: You can add your volunteer work or school club activities to your portfolio.
  • Try relating your interests and strengths to post-secondary programs you would be interested in after high school or the occupations you might pursue.
    Tip: Make sure you have the right high school courses for programs or occupations you might be considering after high school.
  • If you plan to do post-secondary education, start making a list of post-secondary schools that offer the programs you’re interested in. Visit each school’s website to see what they offer.
    Tip: Plan a visit to the post-secondary schools that interest you. Take a tour, visit an open house, or try a “student for a day” program. Many schools offer them.
  • Make sure the courses you are taking right now meet the admission requirements for the post-secondary program and school you’re hoping to attend.
    Tip: Admission requirements are available online. For more information, you can ask your guidance counsellor or visit the post-secondary school’s website.
  • If you do not plan on post-secondary education, choose courses that match your interests. There are many occupations open to people who go directly into a job from high school. Get familiar with them as early as you can.
    Tip: Choose elective courses that match your interests and that could help you in your future career.
  • Check out some spending tips for students to help you manage your money.
    Tip: Whether or not you plan to go to post-secondary school, learn more about paying for your life after high school. One way is to go with your parents or friends to an information night on financial aid and student loans.
  • Find out how you can pay for your education after high school. You can even start applying for scholarships and bursaries now.
    Tip: Try saving some money every month toward your post-secondary education: a Registered Education Savings Plan or RESP is a great way to do this!

Grade 12 checklist

Let’s make sure you’re ready for your transition to post-secondary education, training, or your new occupation! Pay close attention to admissions, timelines, money matters, and more.


  • Explore occupations based on the high school subjects you’re good at and interested in.
  • Find out when schools that interest you have Open House days and arrange to visit
  • Even if you checked the admission requirements last year, check again. Sometimes entrance requirements change.
  • Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) if you don’t already have one.
  • Create your own checklist of deadlines for:
    • Admissions applications, which will vary with each post-secondary school
    • Financial aid applications
    • Tuition
    • Housing
    • Materials you will need to submit
    • Where to send your high school transcripts and to whom

Tip: Not sure where to start? Check out the post-secondary school’s website or contact them directly.

  • Start researching scholarships and bursaries. Bookmark anything that interests you online or print paper copies of post-secondary student funding programs and scholarships.
  • Tip: Get a head-start and begin to fill out applications now. Send them in before the deadline to be safe.
  • Update your portfolio to showcase all your accomplishments in school, volunteer work, jobs, hobbies, sports, or other extra-curricular experiences.

You should know:

  • Your Grade 12 marks, especially from the first semester, count heavily in post-secondary admissions.
  • Some post-secondary schools have application deadlines as early as November. Check application deadlines for the post-secondary schools that interest you. Also, find out if there are early deadlines to qualify for certain programs, attend different campuses, or apply for student housing.


  • Check your calendar. Are any of your admission application deadlines coming up?
  • Tip: Most Alberta post-secondary application forms can be completed and submitted online. Apply Alberta is a great place to start. It is an online application system that will let students apply to one or more post-secondary institutions and authorize transcript transfers between participating institutions in the province.
  • Continue to check and apply for scholarships from both public and private sources such as churches, community groups, the government, and cultural organizations.
  • To get financial aid, you have to apply for it. Visit the Student Aid website to apply for financial aid or get more information from your high school guidance.
    Tip: Some post-secondary schools have separate financial aid application forms called institutional aid applications. Do some research and find out if this option is available to you.

You should know:

  • You must send your transcript with your admission application, so keep working hard on your grades!
  • If you have to move away from home, start researching possible places to live or contact the housing office at the post-secondary school you plan to attend for more information.


You should know:

  • There is a fee involved when you request your transcripts.
  • If you plan to live in residence on campus, apply now. Many places offer accommodation on a first come, first served basis.


You should know:

  • If you plan to live in residence on campus and have not yet applied for housing, apply now. Often, accommodations are offered on a first come, first served basis.



  • Check your calendar for any upcoming application deadlines in March.
  • Watch announcements, bulletin boards, and newspapers carefully for scholarships. Local organizations and individuals sometimes award scholarships to students graduating from their local high school.



  • You may start getting conditional offers of admission and financial aid in April. Continue to make long-range plans with your family about how you’re going to pay for post-secondary education and where you’re going to live.
  • Create a folder and put all your post-secondary materials (applications, transcripts, student funding information, etc.) in it for safe keeping.
  • Now is a good time to look for a summer job, so that you can save money for your studies.


  • Most offers of admission are made in May. Hopefully, you will hear back soon from a post-secondary school! If you don’t, remember that there is often a second round of admission offers made later in the summer.
  • When you hear back from a post-secondary school, remember to put your Student ID Number and PAC (Personal Access Code) in the special folder you created. You will use these quite often in the future.
  • As soon as you have decided which offer to accept, notify the post-secondary school of your decision.
  • If you are placed on a post-secondary school’s waiting list and intend to enrol if accepted, call or write the admissions office to ask how to strengthen your application or find out your standing.
  • If you’re considering student funding, ask your high school guidance counsellor for a student loan application form and begin filling it out. If you prefer, you can also apply online.
    Tip: It’s a good idea to submit a student loan application by May 31.


  • Make sure that you have your student loan applications in by the end of June so you can receive the funds you need by the time school starts.
  • If you have accepted admission offers from more than one post-secondary school, make a firm decision about which school you will attend.
    Tip: To help you decide, evaluate what’s important to you, like location, class sizes, programs offered, student services, graduate employment rates, etc.
  • Send your final transcript showing high school graduation to the post-secondary school you will be attending.
  • Review and ensure you meet requests for deposits, housing information, and other information relevant to you from the post-secondary school you will be attending.
  • If you have completed Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, send your test scores to the post-secondary school so you can receive credit for those courses.

Congratulations, high school graduate! Good luck on an exciting and successful future.


If you think a post-secondary degree or diploma is for you, but you’re not ready to commit, try open studies. With this route, you can take a few university-level courses and see if the experience is a good fit. Open studies are available in many different subjects.


If you have decided to pursue post-secondary education during this time, you may still have a “walk in” option. During the 2‒3-week period, just before classes begin, post-secondary schools sometimes discover they still have room for students. Apply now. It’s possible you will still be accepted.

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