What I’m Doing

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.

9 thoughts on “What I’m Doing

  1. Hello Alexx,

    I’m currently a student at Brock University as an undergraduate in the Child and Youth program. I have been trying forever to hear from someone and agree with them that it is crazy how hard it is to want to pursue a child life specialist path in Canada. I have been very discouraged lately because most people I have talked to (including my academic advisor) have told me McMaster only accepts 10 students per year, which completely tore my confidence level down. I am really inspired by your posts about how you didn’t give up on the career path you had always wanted. Did you receive your bachelor degree then apply to the University of California right after? I still have one more year at Brock but I am very confused with the child life process. Did you ever volunteer at the Ronald Mcdonald house in Hamilton?

    Thanks! Look forward to hearing from you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rebekah! Thanks for reaching out – how did you come across my blog? I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about Child Life, the certification process, and any other concerns/questions you have! I am currently living in London, so I do volunteer at RMH, but at the House here. It’s great experience. Since you’re not done your undergrad yet, I’d recommend volunteering in a Child Life program near you if there is one, and RMH as well if you can. McMaster’s program (changing to a Master’s program this academic year) is very competitive and yes, does only accept between 10-15 students per year (from what I’ve been told). I got my BA in psychology from Western and then found the University of Cali program after I got rejected from the Mac program (which was super discouraging). If I could choose, I would have definitely liked to be in that program right now, but things don’t always go as planned…if you want to apply there, definitely do it. It’s tough but very possible. Shoot me an email if you’d like… alexandriafriesen@live.com…and we can chat some more πŸ™‚


    1. Hello! I finished the UCSB Extension program last September and I really enjoyed it! Something to consider is the challenge in securing an internship as UCSB doesn’t provide support in that step so you’d be applying as an unaffiliated student unless you are enrolled in a different school. Many US-based hospitals accept unaffiliated students but it’s definitely an added step in the process. The program was fabulous though overall and I think it really helped me shape myself as a CCLS.


  2. Hi Alexandria I sent you an e-mail from you post above. It may be in your junk box, thanks for your time!! πŸ™‚


    1. Hi Ashley – I just saw this right now .. wow my apologies. Did you want to send another email (unless we already chatted, in which case nevermind πŸ˜‰ )!! lol


  3. Hi Alex,
    I came across your blog when I was searching for a back up plan in case I do not get into McMaster. I graduated from Brock University child health program. I am currently finishing up my volunteer hours at SickKids Hospital for McMaster’s 100 volunteer hours requirement. I came across the Child Life program at I UCSB before your blog and I was wondering if there were any requirements for admissions as I could not find any on their website. Other than securing an internship, did you find that you had any other issues becoming a CCLS through this program? This blog really helped to pick up my spirits and not give up on becoming a CCLS!


    1. Hi Erin! Thanks for reaching out! I’m glad you’ve found some guidance in my blog posts! There are no requirements for the UCSB program as it is a certificate program, and not a degree program. To receive the full certificate you need a certain amount of courses (should say on their site, not sure if it’s changed since I took it). The other option, that some people choose, is to just take enough courses to fulfill whatever academic requirements are still needed of them by the ACLP.
      And no, not at all. I felt that these courses complimented what I already learned very nicely – I have a BA in Psych. The instructors were fabulous and super experienced in the field. The internship was by far the most challenging part, but it was possible to get. If you do take that route – be it UCSB or any other program not hospital-affiliated – be sure to start research on hospitals early. The more open you can be to relocating, the more luck you will have. And don’t forget about researching US visas if your path did lead you to the US for an internship.
      Hope that helps! Best of luck to you and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have more questions!


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