Thinking Ahead: Tips for students, grades 9 to 12

James McGill

We’re now at the mid-way point of the academic year. The following are some things we think you should be thinking about (or doing) over the next few weeks and months.

Grade 12 students

Tip: Talk with parents about finances

Autumn is typically intense for seniors.  It must be satisfying to know applications are a thing of the past. You’re now on the homestretch.  Now all that’s left to do is wait for responses to arrive and to decide where you will spend the next four years.

You undoubtedly took cost into consideration when deciding where to apply.  Now is a good time to revisit those discussions you had with your parents, and to turn your attention to scholarship applications.  Many scholarships have spring deadlines so don’t delay.  Search for options at universities you’re considering as well as government and non-governmental options.

Read this useful blog entry for tips on potential sources as well as a list of useful websites on financial aid and scholarships.

Grade 11 students

Tip: Avoid a stressful autumn, plan ahead

Before you know it you’ll be applying.  Now is the time to focus on your university search.  Make a list of things universities “must have” – think size, program, location, etc. – and do some research. Spring is an ideal time to begin browsing university websites, to sign up for mailing lists, and to visit university campuses. If the universities you prefer are far from your home, take virtual tours. You should aim to have a short list of preferred universities by the end of the summer.

Some of the universities on your list may require standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, TOEFL or IELTS. Take a look at testing calendars to create a testing schedule. Then, take practice tests to find out which tests are best for you.  To perform your best, be sure to practice.  You can’t perform well by cramming at the last minute.

If you need advice on choosing someone to help with test preparation, let us know.  We have partners who can help in-person and/or on-line.

Grade 10 students

Tip: Plan now to maximize options

The more you do now, the more options you’ll have in your senior year. Good university admissions planning begins with your course selection.  Make sure that you know what courses you need to take in high school to meet university admission requirements.  Yes, that means you should have a sense of what you would like to study. It’s also good to have a sense of where you’ll be applying.  To keep more options on the table, aim to meet eligibility requirements for more selective universities.

The summer between grade 10 and grade 11 years is also a good time to investigate program and career options.  Use your favourite hobbies, classes and activities to determine what you may want to do.  Consider attending a pre-university program to explore your interests, to discover new passions, and to experience life on a university campus.

Check out our tips for making the best of your summer holiday.

Grade 9 students

Tip: Shift from survival mode to growth mode

The transition to high school is challenging academically and socially.  Understandably, grade 9 students are not typically thinking about university admissions.  For the first few months, you’ve been busy adjusting to your new school, finding your classrooms, and generally fitting in. Now that you’ve been in grade 9 for a few months it’s time to shift gears.  It’s time to start setting higher goals, like finishing the year on a high note by getting good grades and getting involved in extracurricular activities.  You need to begin thinking ahead and lay the groundwork for future success.

VerveSmith helps students find universities and programs that match their aspirations, and to develop an admissions application strategy. For additional help, contact us.

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