This month, we sat down with Amanda Halliday, one of our educational consultants, to learn more about her role at Options.
Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Options Solutions.
I’m in my fourth year as an Educational Consultant at Options. I first experienced Options Solutions as a client while helping my own kids (now 25, 23 and 19) find their paths to university. I loved learning about the different programs available — so much has changed since I attended UBC in the 80’s! I thought to myself “Wow, I could do this as a job, how cool.” I love teenagers, and after working for many years in marketing, I can finally put my teaching and English degrees to work.
What do you enjoy most about working at Options? What do you find is the most unique aspect of working at Options?
I love the diversity of students that I get to work with. Some people think that Options clients are mainly high-achieving students looking for admission to Ivy League schools, but really, Options is for everyone. I get just as much fulfillment out of helping a student who aspired to be a dermatologist, but didn’t have strong math and science grades, realize she could become an aesthetician instead, or a student who never thought he could get into a university at all realize that by taking one more course, he could.
What is the value of engaging Options’ services? What would a “typical” appointment look like?
I think the real value comes in helping students explore their interests and passions. We use an assortment of career assessment tools, and really focus on interests rather than aptitude to help students find a program that will be personally fulfilling and rewarding. In Grade 10, we do a lot of career exploration and ensure they have the right courses to keep doors open. We also set goals and talk about study habits. I find it really important to discuss “where are you now” and “where do you want to be” to ensure we are choosing programs and institutions that match a student’s values, interests, and academic potential. In Grade 11, we start to research and refine programs and schools of interest, and assist with Grade 12 course planning to ensure that the constantly changing high school curriculum meets their goals and the post-secondary requirements. In Grade 12, we usually set up a series of appointments to help with the entire application process: applications, supplemental essays, scholarship applications, residence applications, decision making and first-year course planning.
What’s been your biggest learning opportunity at Options?
I am always learning! Every day I come home and marvel at what I’ve learned in a day. The post-secondary scene is changing rapidly; requirements change and new programs are added all the time. But what’s been the biggest lesson for me is that every student has unique dreams and goals, and I aspire to really listen and help each and every student reach their own goals.
What’s something people may not know about you?
I love adventure travel. With my husband and many of our adventurous friends, we’ve biked and trekked in Peru, Morocco, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Colombia, to name a few places. As an education geek, I try to visit schools wherever I go. In March, my husband and I are trekking to the Annapurna base camp in Nepal. I also love to cook for family and friends, and take great pleasure in trying to recreate the dishes I’ve tried through my travels.