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.