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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

At an early age, elementary school students are expected to make decisions that will launch them towards particular post-secondary pathways and career prospects. It is important to provide them with the necessary information and opportunities to explore a variety of educational and professional options so they can successfully set and achieve goals for the future.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lift Off to Higher Education program, previously known as Jumpstart to Higher Education, is an interactive in-school program that supports students in grade 7 and 8 in identifying their interests and skills and introduces them to various pathways of education. Also included in both programs is information on financial literacy and how it impacts students’ future.

Through the Lift Off program, our professional facilitators lead engaging presentations for grade 7 and 8 classes throughout Waterloo Region. In addition to the direct presentations for students, this program is intended to support guidance counsellors, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and administrators as they present ideas for career planning to their students. Our program coordinators will work with teachers and principals to deliver the Lift Off to Higher Education program using an educational style tailored to the needs of their diverse student populations and inclusive of Indigenous youth.

We reached 3,725 students in over 160 classes in the 2018-19 school year.

The Grade 7 and Grade 8 Lift Off program objectives are aligned with the Ministry of Education’s Creating Pathways to Success: An Education and Career/Life Planning Program for Ontario Schools.

The objectives focus on the document’s four areas of learning:

  1. Who am I? (Knowing yourself)
  2. What are my opportunities? (Exploring opportunities)
  3. Who do I want to become? (Making decisions and setting goals)
  4. What is my plan for achieving my goals? (Achieving goals and making transitions)

Grade 7 Program

How do our individual skills, interests, values and personality make us unique and how does this knowledge help inform our career choices? This is one of the many questions we explore during the Grade 7 Lift Off program.

Students who complete the program will have experience:

  • Determining how skills, interests, values, and personality influence career choices.
  • Analyzing jobs with common attributes.
  • Investigating jobs that are related to specific skills and interests.
  • Developing skills in financial literacy in relation to education and career planning.
  • Becoming familiar with job interview protocols.

Grade 8 Program

We want to help students and their families understand how a post-secondary education can be achieved by choosing the high school stream and post-secondary pathway that’s right for them.

During the Grade 8 program, our facilitators will guide students through:

  • Analyzing differences between post-secondary pathways including apprenticeships, college, direct-to-work and university options.
  • Determining the roadblocks in choosing a career that is a good “fit”.
  • Information about available funding for post-secondary education through financial literacy activities.
  • De-mystifying post-secondary education.

COVID-19 Update

In light of the ongoing developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and in order to best protect the health and well-being of our extended Laurier community, we will be delivering the Lift Off program online until further notice.

We are working with our partner schools to schedule their online program delivery for this fall and winter. Please contact us if you are interested in scheduling an online program or if you would like more information.

Lift Off to Higher Education

Jan McPhedran McLeod, Program Coordinator

T: 519.884.0710 x3230

Marj Bellingham, Program Coordinator

T: 519.884.0710 x3230

We encourage teachers, guidance counsellors and principals interested in bringing the Lift Off program to their schools to reach out to one of our program coordinators.

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Program Evaluation

The Lift Off program was launched under the name Jumpstart to Higher Education through the generous support and funds from a well established family foundation in the Waterloo Region and continued with funding from The Astley Family Foundation from 2013-2018.

  • Request access to the 2018 Jumpstart to Higher Education Accountability Report


Laurier's Lift Off to Higher Education program is funded by our donor partner, Manulife Financial.

Manulife Financial logo


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