The reason I started this blog was to provide inspiration and information to people who are looking to be a Child Life Specialist like myself. Not only that, but my hope is that as my blog progresses, that individuals who are interested in other areas of study may find my posts encouraging.
So, what am I doing that’s so different? What route am I taking that makes my journey something I feel is worth sharing with other interested candidates? Like many other Canadian students, I applied to the Child Life Studies Program at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. Unfortunately, I wasn’t granted acceptance, or even an interview. I was devastated and briefly lost my determination. I decided to go back to back to Western University to do a fifth year, and upgrade courses that I didn’t do so well in, in hopes that upon re-applying I would get in.
After discussing with friends and family, and doing a lot of thinking, I decided that going back to school for a fifth year wasn’t going to be the option I felt was right for me. Knowing that McMaster was the only school in Canada to offer a full child life certificate program, I began researching other options – specifically online options. After much researching, emailing, and applying, I was accepted to a school in the US to study child life online.
All of the Child Life Specialists that I know went to McMaster for their program. In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone studying child life online (even though the online programs are pretty popular in the states, with more and more programs beginning to offer their course work online). So I was very weary to finally choose this program as my option. After all, was it even legitimate? Will I be taken seriously to employers down the line if I’ve studied my whole program online? If I study through an American school, am I eligible for certification in Canada? Again, after much research and deliberation, I found some very positive and hopeful answers. The program, listed on the Child Life Council’s website, was definitely legitimate and offers a certificate upon completion of select child life courses and an internship. There is no way of knowing how employers will react to my chosen method of study – however it is 2015, and with more and more people opting for an online option for their Master’s programs or other academic degrees, one can only hope that it will become more widely accepted. As far as certification in Canada; because there is only one major school in Canada that offers the program, all child life students interested in becoming certified must write their exams through the Child Life Council, which is American – and in order to write the exam, all students must have completed the same requirements.
While it’s difficult to speak for the future and say which decision is best (for anything) in the long run, I did receive a lot of positive feedback and reviews from people who knew about the program and recommended it. I decided to finally take the leap and I will beginning my first child life course through the University of California – Santa Barbara on Monday September 28.
The moral of my story? It’s hard to plan life. I had always imagined I would be accepted to McMaster’s program right out of undergrad, find an internship location super quickly, pass the certification exam right away, and get a job right out of the gate. And while the majority of those things have yet to happen, I can safely say that there is a good chance that that little plan of mine will not go as planned. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that life is hard to plan. What’s easy is planning goals and dreams – the hard part is figuring out how to get there. It’s often tough to accept, but there is (usually) more than one way of obtaining a goal, so don’t give up if plan A doesn’t go as anticipated. Research, find back-ups and lots of plan B’s, just in case life requires you to take a detour.
If you’re interested in learning more about the child life program I have enrolled in, please click here.