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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.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lift Off to Higher Education program, previously known as Jumpstart to Higher Education, is a free, interactive online 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’ futures.

Through the Lift Off program, our professional facilitators lead engaging presentations for grade 7 and 8 classes. The presentations are presented in six to seven modules that are accompanied by a workbook and independent activities for students. Lift Off is intended to support guidance counsellors, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and administrators as they present ideas for career planning to their students.

As of January 2022 the Lift Off program has reached more than 30,000 students in eight years with this free program.

We have presented to schools within the Waterloo Region District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

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)
Marty Deacon

“I’m so thrilled Laurier is still involved in this project. A shout out to all of you that help make this program work. It takes volunteers, a staff, it takes structure and we are so thrilled you are still with us after all these years.”

The Honourable Marty Deacon, senator and former teacher, principal and superintendent, Waterloo Region District School Board


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 needs versus wants.
  • Becoming familiar with job interview protocols.

Grade 8 Program

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

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

  • Analyzing differences between postsecondary pathways including apprenticeships, college, direct-to-work and university options.
  • Determining the roadblocks in choosing a career that is a good “fit.”
  • Learning about available funding for postsecondary education including scholarships, bursaries, and OSAP.
  • Working through financial literacy activities that encourage them to focus on saving for the future.
  • De-mystifying postsecondary education.

Indigenous Modules

Coming in spring 2022 are four new modules based on our Indigenous resources, “Bright Path” and “Eagle Eye,” written by Black-Indigenous author and youth worker Curtis Bell. These modules complement our program and are suitable for Grade 7 and 8 students. The modules are:

  • Sharing Your Gifts
  • Life in a Circle
  • Who is Your Hero?
  • The Future Awaits

Return to this website for information on the release of these modules.

Lift Off to Higher Education

Jan McPhedran McLeod, Program Coordinator

T: 226.338.2150

Marj Bellingham, Program Coordinator

T: 519.404.0162

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.

The Lift Off program was launched under the name Jumpstart to Higher Education through the generous support and funds from The Astley Family Foundation from 2013 to 2018.

Since 2019, Laurier's Lift Off to Higher Education program is funded by our donor partner, Manulife Financial.

Manulife Financial logo


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