University Information Night: Important Takeaways

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By Ruthie Szamosi, Guidance and Learning Counsellor

At our recent University Information Night, it was great to see so many Grades 10–12 families and students come and hear about the university application process and Linden’s approach to guidance and university preparation. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here are some important takeaways:

First, choose the right program for you

The programs you apply to should offer topics that you are genuinely interested in, and that you will enjoy studying for the next several years, so think about what your interests and strengths are, both inside and outside of school. If you know exactly what you want to study, you can apply to specific degree programs right out of high school. If you need more time to decide, apply to more general programs that will allow you to take courses in a few different disciplines. Look at university websites, visit different schools to attend an open house or go on a campus tour, and talk to current university students to see which schools are the best fit for you. This includes both the academic programs as well as other non-academic elements that each university has to offer.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you interested in getting practical experience through co-op placements or internships?
  • What kind of community do you want to live in?
  • What scholarships or work-study opportunities do you need?

Every university will offer something different, so it’s important to do your research and make an informed decision.

Second, emphasize your unique strengths

Once you have chosen the universities you wish to apply to, you will need to start putting together your applications.

The importance of grades:

Make sure your grades make you eligible for each program. Each program will have its own grade cut-off, because many university courses build upon knowledge and skills learned in high school courses. Though Grade 12 marks are the most important, some programs will consider you for early conditional admission or scholarships based on your Grade 11 final marks and your interim Grade 12 U/M marks.

"Holistic" approach to admissions:

Increasingly, though, universities are moving towards a “holistic” admission evaluation process. This means that, in addition to high school grades, universities want to know how you will contribute to the school community. This is why it's important for your application to include examples of leadership and engagement. It can seem daunting, but keep in mind that Linden students are already expected to contribute to the community and take on leadership roles. Even if you are a few years away from graduating, think about clubs you participated in or ran, sports teams you played on or helped out with, events you volunteered with, or All-School activities you organized. Remember that there is no one way to be a leader, so take advantage of the different opportunities that present themselves throughout your time in high school. Think about the person you want to present in your university application, and make sure you are acting like that person now. If you want to seem like the kind of student who takes initiative, take initiative now. If you want to appear responsible, take on responsibilities and make sure you follow through on them. The best way to have a strong application is to have an honest application.

Third, start planning your transition to university now

Of course, applying to university is really only the first step. Once you graduate from Linden you will be starting a whole new journey and facing a new set of challenges. There are some things that all high school students, as well as their families, can start thinking about now so that you will be prepared to succeed at university. 

What families can do:

Families can start fostering independence while still providing support and security. This means expecting students to be responsible for their own work and learning and not picking up the slack for them when they make mistakes. At Linden, we work very hard to build this kind of independence and responsibility, as well as self-advocacy and problem-solving skills, amongst our students. You can support this at home by encouraging students to communicate directly with teachers and seek out their own resources and support when things don’t go as planned. Talk to them about how to problem-solve rather than solving their problems for them.

What students can do:

For students, the best way to prepare for success at university is to start working on your learning skills and study habits now. Practise persevering through challenges, managing your time realistically, taking responsibility for your work, experimenting with organization systems that work for you, and taking risks. You don’t need to have everything figured out by the time you graduate, but getting started now, in a familiar and supportive setting, will make all of these things easier than when you’re in a new environment.

You've got this

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that you have been working hard and learning new things during your time at Linden. Our graduates consistently tell us that they are ahead of their peers at university in terms of preparation, study skills, confidence, and their ability to connect with everyone, including university faculty and staff. Whatever you choose to do, do it with the same rigour and motivation that you apply towards your studies and extra-curricular activities at Linden, and you will be just fine!

Please email me if you missed the event and would like to receive handouts from this presentation.

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