Scott Gooding, or perhaps better known as Mr. Gooding, has been a member of the Glendale High School staff for 34 years now, with 25 of those years as a guidance counsellor. Being seen as a master of his craft, you could very well say that Mr. Gooding has seen it all. With students of all ages heading back to school in the next few weeks and days, I thought it would be fitting to sit down with him to discuss his experiences with students changing their mind about their future, his point of view on post-secondary education, and his tips on how to live the happiest life possible. I hope everyone who reads this takes at least one small piece of knowledge with them as they head into the start of a new school year...because no matter what stage you're at, there is always the potential that this year could be the most important one yet.
What do you normally see when it comes to students saying that they have changed their mind regarding what they want to do after high school?
It’s not uncommon at all. In fact, I would say about 80% of kids, or maybe even more than that, really don’t know what they want to do. They might just have ideas from their parents or even T.V. shows, so they start looking at forensic science, medicine, and law. Or, if they do have a better idea about what they want to do, they go looking for a clear path and it might not be there. I would be interested to know the number of people that actually end up doing what they originally went to post-secondary for after they finish their schooling, because even a program like engineering that seems pretty finite in possible jobs can open up into anything.
What common mistakes do you see young people making in terms of setting themselves up for the future that they want?
Early in their high school career, students should try to make a plan that will encompass all of their possibilities. A lot of times people want to take the easy way, so, for example, instead of taking the math they should be taking, students will take the easier math that they are more comfortable with.
Another mistake I see students making is not making their community service hours related to the field they have an interest in. Some things you have to have the hours and the experience for, so if you have to do your community service hours, you may as well do them in something that might be down the path that you want to pursue.
The other big thing that I don’t see students doing is considering the financial end of things. People don’t always plan, so instead of saving $200.00 towards their education, they spend it on something else. That is hard to resist, especially when you are young, but we try to talk to students about that and also highlight scholarships. On average, I would say we only have about 10 kids who take scholarships really seriously each year, apply to everything, and make sure that their application is very detailed. Almost every time they get rewarded to some extent.
What recommendations do you have for kids that might be considering joining a club or sports team? I ask because you probably have a good idea about the effects these programs can have on students in regard to developing character and how it helps you after school.
I think sports, clubs, and activities that students do are just as important, and in some cases more important, than the academic side of things. In academics you have to have the courses and the marks, but I know that sports had a huge impact on me growing up. The character and leadership skills that you develop can’t be taken away from you and they are the things that a lot of employers are looking for. In almost all cases, I recommend that kids get involved in these activities, as it has been shown time and time again that students involved in their school do better academically. I think being busy and having to be organized goes a long way down the road and having participated in those activities is invaluable.
I can think of many kids over the life of my career that have, because of whatever they were involved in, been changed and given them some direction or discipline that they might not have thought they had. They become a different person because of this, which gives them confidence in themselves and allows them to get out of their comfort zone.
Do you think post-secondary education is the only option for people graduating high school?
There are so many pathways that students can take, but the problem is that sometimes students and parents see university first and don’t see the other possible options. There are all different kinds of apprenticeships, even besides the trades, such as hairstyling, cooking, and farming. On-the-job training is crucial and farming is a great example of that. Even those who grew up on a family farm know so much already, but often times they will go to college to learn some things that they might not have known and their parents might want them to have that experience when they are young.
Over the years, I have even had students come to me saying that they want to become self-employed, but they don’t know how that would work. I tend to recommend college programs focused around business management and self-employment if they don’t know what field they want to go into, because if you don’t know that much about business, it is certainly a good idea to have that background.
What advice would you give to people in order to achieve happiness after school?
I definitely think you need to find your own path. You need to find a career that you enjoy doing and something that you will enjoy doing for a long period of time. You really have to like your work because that’s where you spend most of your time, so the majority of that should be an experience you look forward to.
Secondly, you have to have a balance. You have to make the time for your family and your friends, and you have to make time for yourself. Whether that is a sport, a craft, or reading, you have to take the time to enjoy your life. Travelling is also great when you are young, but you have to be aware of the financial end of that too. It is kind of funny to think about now because when I travelled when I was younger, if wasn’t very far. Now kids will get to travel all around the world and not realize the financials that go into making that trip possible.
I think it is important to also find a balance between retirement savings and enjoying some of the money you make. I know that for a lot of people money is their focus, but then they don’t enjoy life. They might have all the money in the world, but they haven’t done anything with it. Money can take away some of the worries, but if you don’t have the other things in your balance and don’t have the people to share it with, then it means nothing.
What is your number one goal when you show up to work every day and what is it that makes you love your job?
I would like people to feel happy and enjoy life, so I try to help people achieve that in any way I can. I think I learned that from my parents, so that has always been something I valued. It is more a question of why not? Why would you want to be a Debbie Downer or put down someone’s ideas for themselves?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Patrick MacDougall and I am a licensed REALTOR® based out of Tillsonburg, Ontario. I service the Oxford, Norfolk, and Elgin County areas and work everyday to bring as much value to others as I possibly can.