By Stelios Pappas 
BELLEVILLE – Ontario students are entering college and university a year earlier and getting into the workforce sooner then they used to – but is it too early?
According to Peterborough entrepreneur Ryan Kirby, it depends on the person.
“The best thing would seem to encourage and empower the individual’s choice about what option is best for them: victory lap, work or straight to post-secondary,” Kirby, 27, a social-media consultant, told QNet News. “I went straight (into college) out of high school and don’t regret it.”
What is now commonly called a victory lap – a fifth year of high school – used to be Grade 13. It was a part of high school in Ontario from 1921 to 1988.
A Statistics Canada  article published in 2010 says requirements in the job market are becoming more demanding. “Increasing entrance requirements to professional careers mean that more students pursue post secondary education than ever before,” the report said.
Ryan Lofgren, a 19-year-old Loyalist College student, didn’t do a victory lap. After high school, he said, he wanted to take a year off and travel outside the country, but a car accident prevented that. So instead he worked as a manager at McDonald’s and started college the following year.
Both men said it can take a while to figure out what you want to do in your schooling and career.
Kirby said he attended three different post-secondary institutions before he felt comfortable in Media Studies at Trent University.
“I did three years at Fleming College , followed by one year at Ryerson University . I then ended up with a Media Studies degree from Trent. I found that life experience is helpful in university. Going to university out of high school might have been too much for me, but following college and real-life experience, it was manageable.”
Kirby said he thinks students should be trying to find a program that fuels their interests.
“I have done a lot of things. As a rule, I try to do new things often, and say yes to things I have enjoyed previously. So far, this has resulted in doing more of the things I enjoy.”
Kirby is currently applying to do a master’s degree at Trent.
His advice to future grads: “Go ahead and take some risks to differentiate yourself from the competition and find what you love doing.”