Results of the My Path project

The choice of further education after comprehensive school is an important decision that can affect the rest of a young person’s life. Lack of upper secondary education is strongly linked to problems with finding employment and a low income level. We need proven methods of ensuring that young people have the opportunity to make successful choices after comprehensive school.

A research project by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Nykänen, Vuori & Törnroos 2022) analyzed the effects of the My Path program on the personal skills of ninth graders in 2016–2019. The VATT Institute for Economic Research continues to research the impact of the program in the 2021–2024 period.

Participants in the My Path project were the VATT Institute for Economic Research, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the University of Jyväskylä, Aalto University, Walter Association and dozens of schools across Finland.


What did we learn from the My Path project?


What would the researcher do?

Taking into account the role of schools as a safety net

According to studies, the school environment protects young people who are in a critical position against social exclusion. Schools are tasked with providing good teaching, but also with monitoring and supporting young people’s development. The COVID-19 pandemic and remote teaching demonstrated how important this is, particularly for the most vulnerable young people. For this reason, it is essential that the safety net offered by the school remains as part of the daily life of students. The role of schools as providers of not only education but also support must be taken into account when making decisions on the resources allocated to schools.

Strengthening the role of guidance counseling in extended compulsory education

Extended compulsory education supports the safety nets of young people who are at a risk of social exclusion. Enabling young people to make informed decisions requires offering them enough support at the transition stage. Guidance counseling plays a crucial role in providing young people with important information on secondary studies, helping them to identify the most suitable options for them and backing up the decision-making with psychological support. With the extended compulsory education, the school system also becomes responsible for guiding students to secondary education after comprehensive school.

Additional support for choosing secondary education for those who need it

The abilities of students to make choices about their secondary education after comprehensive school vary a lot. Children with an immigrant background or whose parents are not highly educated might not receive enough support and information from their families for making the choice.
Guidance counselors must take the students who need help into account and provide them with the information and help they need for making the choice. Important elements of the support include strengthening psychological skills, such as self-knowledge, self-esteem, and motivation.

Rolling out the My Path program in upper comprehensive schools

The My Path program supports young people in making choices on further education and strengthens their wellbeing and the skills needed in working life. The program complements the competence of guidance counselors and improves their pedagogical skills. My Path is a complete set of study materials for guidance counselors to use with students as a part of the regular curriculum in years 7–9 of comprehensive school. Upper comprehensive schools in the City of Helsinki are testing My Path in 2021–2024, and we also recommend rolling it out in other schools. The impact of the program will be monitored in a separate research project later on.

Research data

Based on research data

The studies below contain information on Finnish research the educational choices, training and education, social exclusion, and scientifically proven ways of preventing exclusion.