5 Things to Know Before Grade 12

Hey everyone! How is your weekend so far?

This article introduction is one I wrote for Young Scholar, an Ontario-based scholarship organization. You can read it here as well, but this version is a little less formal. The tips are pretty much the same. 🙂

For many high-schoolers, the end of summer is a demanding time. With universities and scholarships to ponder and piece together, as well as looming deadlines and test dates (not to mention extracurricular activities, work, volunteer, and sleep!) – there is no doubt that the final year of high school is the most hectic. While the new school year marks a fresh start to yet another 190 days of homework and exams, it is also a moment to explore new opportunities and prepare for the thrilling months ahead. I wrote this article to emphasize a point that many high school students forget: for universities and scholarships, being organized, enthusiastic, inquisitive, and proactive are equally important as good grades. I’m thankful for knowing before grade 12 that post-secondary institutions value “special” over “smart”. In addition to volunteering regularly at children’s camps, the hospital, and teaching preschoolers to ice-skate, engaging in unusual activities, like aerial gymnastics, paid off.

Here are the top five tips that allowed me to navigate the seas of stress and senioritis.

  • Know your talents and take them one step further. If you are super organized, why not volunteer at a doctor’s office? If you are super enthusiastic, share your passions as a children’s activity leader. If you love teaching, why not get some work experience with a former teacher? Universities have lots of similar students – everyone will be smart and a good volunteer. BE SPECIAL! Do something extraordinary that most people don’t do. Volunteer at a morgue! Make and sell tea bags! Knit for the homeless!
  • Do your research. Know what requirements there are for EACH DIFFERENT SCHOOL. Every university has their own requirements. Everything can be found online! You can even do virtual tours of dorms to see which you like best. I would recommend applying to 3-5 universities, and five being the absolute MAX. Don’t waste time applying – you can only end up going to one university; there’s no point in applying for 15!
  • Start early! Plan ahead. Print off a calendar and record important dates, deadlines, etc. You certainly don’t want to miss a scholarship/application deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to work on assignments and essays – you’ll need it!
  • Do things YOU are passionate about. If you love painting and hate physics, don’t take physics! Take an art course instead, no matter how many people want you to take physics. It’s YOUR year. Do what you enjoy – you’ll get so much more out of it! For me, I absolutely hate law, business, and computers. I avoided those at all costs throughout high school, because if I took any of those courses, I knew I’d get a bad mark – simply because I’m not interested! So cliche, but listen to your heart and do what YOU like to do.
  • That being said, LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. They aren’t going to fall into your hands. You need to be proactive and look for them yourself. Whether that’s online, with teachers, with other connections (parents’ friends, maybe?) – don’t rely on other people to tell you what to do and help you organize a schedule. Like I emphasized, have a good relationship with your counsellor. He/she can help guide you in the right direction.

While hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is key to maintaining senior sanity, don’t forget to treasure your last year of high school – perhaps your last year of school in general. Grade 12 is an unforgettable roller coaster ride of endless paperwork, hilarious photos, and ominous due dates. Cherish this milestone year by spending time and making memories with friends and family. Do your best in everything, and remember, all’s well ends well.

Schulich Leaders Dinner

Hey everyone! How was your week? So glad it’s finally Friday 🙂

I had a fantastic Friday which started with buying an approved faculty calculator for chemistry, then hiking across campus for a Pilates class. After my first Pilates class, which I really enjoyed, I had lunch followed by two classes: chemistry and sociology. I made a couple new friends in chemistry (five, actually!) and we’re planning to be the Front Row Gang from now on. After Soc 101, I headed all the way across campus again for a Cirque Yoga class. Normally, there are 25-30 people MAXIMUM for yoga classes – today, there were FIFTY people lined up to participate. The teacher had to do some improvisation, and we ended up doing partner yoga. I did some pretty embarrassing things with my new friend before hurrying off to today’s special event: The Schulich Leaders Meet-Up! It was pretty awesome… you’ll see in a bit.


Do you have any plans for the weekend?

I have a couple ideas for the weekend, myself. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to cram them all into just two days, but there are definitely some things that I want to do:

  • YogaFit Sweat class at Goodlife: hot yoga is a TON of fun (and hard work!), and it’s actually 10 degrees hotter in Waterloo than Coquitlam. Interesting!
  • Heated vinyasa class
  • Visit The Shops in Uptown Waterloo
  • Go to the Uptown Market
  • Princess Cafe again?
  • Try Power Yoga at the Columbia Ice Fields Fitness Centre by campus
  • Visit the St. Jacobs Farmers Market
  • Cook something with peanut sauce (coconut milk is ready to use in the fridge!)
  • Make a gourmet grilled cheese with multigrain bread, brie cheese, sliced apple, leftover rotisserie chicken

Anyways, we had dinner at East Side Mario’s, an Italian chain restaurant close to campus. It was about a ten-minute walk for me. East Side Mario’s is located in a big plaza with many other restaurants and cafes, including another Williams Fresh Cafe.


The place is decorated with all sorts of paintings and lots of different chandeliers. It reminded me of a dark Olive Garden, or a modern Old Spaghetti Factory. What do you think?


Soup, salad, and garlic bread are all-you-can-eat. The two salad options are Caesar and Garden, but I opted for soup. Today, there were three soup options: Minestrone, Roasted Garlic and Tomato, and Italian Wedding. I chose the tomato soup. It was creamy and had an excellent tomato flavour, but was not acidic or sour at all. The presentation could’ve been prettier, but the waiters were obviously busy. Some freshly-grated parmesan cheese would’ve been a nice touch. I finished all my soup and want to recreate it!


When our food came, we took a group shot! You can meet all of this year’s Schulich Leaders by clicking on THIS LINK. It was great to meet all my new friends: Lucas, Emily, Nicole Pitre, Chloe, Nicole Shum, Madeline, and Aaron. We had an awesome time talking about Hamlet, astronomy, air miles, fencing, curling, buying used video games, and sketchy places to avoid in Waterloo.


Onto the eats! I enjoyed a “shockingly massive” bowl of cheese cappelletti. I was originally thinking about the goat cheese pasta with bell peppers and pesto, but this one is an East Side Mario’s favourite, and one of their most popular choices. I had to give it a try!

I was expecting something like this incredibly rich, cheesy, and buttery ravioli gratin from Le Bosquet in Paris, where I spent most of August. This was a little different, however, with a rose sauce, less cream, no breadcrumbs, and “thicker”, chewier pasta. I had about half of this and wish there were some veggies involved. Maybe I’ll get the salad next time. 🙂

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Exciting news! My article, “5 Tips for a Smooth Senior Year from a National Scholar“, was posted on Young Scholar, an organization dedicated to helping high-schoolers apply to university. Feel free click on THIS LINK to see it, and if you’re a high-school student in Ontario, APPLY FOR IT! 🙂

That’s it for today! Have an awesome weekend, and stay tuned for a big Breakfasts post, as well as some things I’ve learned by living alone and starting university!