Be not afraid of the road less travelled

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Educationally Speaking, By Rob MacLellan

Robert Frost would approve of exploring new opportunities

I’m sitting here thinking about opportunities; opportunities taken and opportunities missed. An excerpt from a Robert Frost poem speaks about coming to a fork in the road and having to choose which path to take. In his poem, there’s no indication as to which is the better of the two paths, although one of them does seem less traveled, leaving the traveler to make a choice based on some internal preference, instinct or random feeling.

Frost’s poem is frequently used as a common analogy when discussing times at which we have to make critical decisions in our lives. Educational choices are fairly clear, as all the indicators are there to inform you as to your destination depending on the path you take. You choose your educational path based on program and course selections. You know the outcome of successfully completing your course and your program of studies.

Obviously, if you were planning on completing an academic grade 12, you wouldn’t select all your courses from the graduation or general credit options. Likewise, if you entered community college with a desire to become an administrative assistant, you wouldn’t sign up for the corrections program.

School children are required to attend school until age 16 and most do continue on to complete a grade 12 education. It’s a positive thing that fewer students are dropping out of school before finishing than was the case a number of years ago. Those who complete grade 12 are making the most of a great opportunity to get a good education tuition-free. Those who leave school early have forsaken this opportunity.

Those who drop out of school while in their teens and who, in later years, finally decide to return to school to complete their interrupted high school programs, may not realize their program will still be available tuition-free. When these returning students learn this, they do so with joyful surprise. The government is committed to providing every Nova Scotian, regardless of age, with a tuition-free education up to and including their attainment of a Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma or a Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma for Adults.

I remain mystified by how little those involved in the public school system know about the world of adult education. I ‘ve recently spoken with a number of teachers in the public schools within our local board area and I was surprised when they evinced little knowledge of the programs that adults can access to further their secondary education. They were even more amazed to learn the programs were tuition-free.

Clearly, many opportunities may be lost through a lack of awareness. The reverse is true as well. The more aware or better educated you keep yourself, the more those opportunities may present themselves to you.

If you’re reading this article and have now learned for the first that a tuition-free secondary education awaits you at our local community college, take the opportunity to visit the college and sign yourself up for a fall adult high school program. There’s no better gift you can give yourself and/or your family than to acquire a high school diploma, which is pretty much a basic qualification for work or higher education.

Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. From a career perspective, you might hear of an employer who is planning to advertise openings at his/her company. That could be your opportunity to get to the head of the list of prospective new hires. Perhaps while working with a company, you hear of a training opportunity that will qualify staff for a new work project or to work in a new division of the company.

Most of the opportunities that present themselves to you may be those other than educational ones. That said, every experience has educational value. In some cases, you might be asked to volunteer for some organization or to join a group. Make the most of this opportunity and agree to sign on. Volunteering and/or being part of an established group is an excellent opportunity to not only perform a needed service or to work towards an excellent cause, but it’s also an opportunity to network with others.

Growing your personal and professional networks means you increase the chances that even more great opportunities will come your way. Some of these may be employment-related, where you might manage to move up in your company or to learn about who may be hiring. Availing yourself of some opportunities might result in an increase in your skill set, which you might then parley into increased job security or job advancement.

Other opportunities might come along that, if taken, will allow you to unexpectedly travel, learn a new language, learn a new hobby, to make a wise investment, to know what’s the best product to buy for which you may be shopping, or to gain a new understanding of another culture.  Opportunities frequently show up when you least expect them.

Each opportunity taken sets you on a new path and some of these paths may be those that, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, take you down the road less traveled.

Be not afraid! 

Rob MacLellan is an advocate of adult education, non-profit organizations and he resides in Alton. He can be reached at 902-673-3269 or by e-mail at


Organizations: Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma for Adults

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Alton

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