You’re in grade 12, it’s your last year of high school. You can’t wait to have the best senior year EVER, and you are excited to move on to bigger and better things. But keep a few things in mind. Your life from here on out will be radically different. Whether you’re taking a year off to travel, or to work, or joining an apprenticeship program, or continuing on to post-secondary studies, high school will seem like it was a lot easier than what you may be facing in the future. It’s a long road up ahead, and trust me, it’ll be worth it.
This post is for high school seniors looking to apply to post-secondary education programs this coming fall/winter.
Know your deadlines
Applications generally open around October-November of your senior year for admission the following September. Depending on the program, the deadline can be anywhere from late December to early January, or even through to mid-March. Know the deadlines for your program(s) of interest and be sure not to miss it. The worst way to get ‘rejected’ is to not apply in the first place.
It’s a trend that most people seem to ignore early application deadlines. “Oh there’s another real deadline, I’ll just make sure I’m done it by then.” Yes? No. Applying early has numerous benefits. If you’ve already got the academic track record to prove your worth, show it to the admissions committee sooner rather than later. You never know, they might say yes right away. And what a relief that is… seeing that first acceptance letter in the mail. Also, applying early can give you a feedback cycle (with some schools) in which case they will tell you they’re interested, but they are waiting on your semester 1 grades, or that they need to see you upkeep the grades for longer, etc. Applying early doesn’t mean rushing your application. Take your time and present yourself in the best and truest sense to the admissions committees.
Have a backup
Some students want to get into only one program. They pour their heart and soul into their studies, and achieve what it takes to get into that one program. This is ambition at its finest, and it usually pays off very well. But be wary. There are many factors, distractions, circumstances that can arise and have adverse effects for even the toughest and brightest of students. Grade 12 is a hard year, for most, with a mix of emotions, coming-of-age realizations, overwhelming excitement for the future. Things go wrong. Life happens. Have a backup. It won’t hurt anyone.
Your grades do matter. Pick and choose what programs you want to get into, know their percentage cut-offs, and strive to achieve that numerical grade or higher. It’s important here to be realistic and true to yourself. Set goals for yourself that you’re able to measure and work hard enough so that you can achieve them. For most Ontario colleges and universities, top six grade 12 courses are what count towards your entering average, but check the particular guidelines for your program/school of interest.
There are thousands of high school seniors that apply to post secondary institutions every year. Chances are, you know someone personally. Do you know someone in your program of interest? Are any alumni from your high school there right now? Ask your guidance counsellor to set up a meeting with a past student who can come in and answer questions about post secondary applications, life, courses, etc. It helps to hear about first-hand experiences that you may also encounter soon. My high school had this program, and it was helpful to hear someone I knew give advice that may help us in the future.
Go on campus tours
Maybe you know what program you want to get into, but that program is offered at multiple institutions. How do you pick where you want to go? Go there! Campus tours are a great way to learn about the institution, its people, programs, faculty, student life, etc. Go during the school year, between September and November, to get the best experience (December is usually exams and holiday month, so the campus may be a little quieter and emptier than usual). This way you have an idea of what the school is like. See if you can picture yourself there for the next 3-4 years, what your life will be life, etc. Really get a feel for it. I went on my campus tours the following spring (right before I finished grade 12) and I wished I had gone a lot earlier, so I could have asked the hundreds of questions I needed to ask the school reps.
Hoping that these and other tips you find out there can help you better prep for this important time of your life coming up ahead. If you have any more suggestions, please comment below! Would love to hear from you!
Happy post-secondary applying!