Grade 12 is a pretty intense year. After all these years in public school and high school, the first step of your education is coming to a close. This transition can be seen not only in preparing for your next steps after graduation but also in your shift towards adulthood and more freedoms and responsibilities.
I’ve seen students tackle Grade 12 in a number of different ways but I think, perhaps, that however you choose to proceed with your final year there are some important dates and goals that you should consider.
1. Attending the Ontario Universities Fair.
This is an event that is occurring on September 19-21. You may be familiar with this fair, but if not I’ll describe what to expect. Hosted in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the OUF features all of the main Ontarian Universities. Representatives from each school are available to share information and answer any questions that you might have. This is a great opportunity to get an initial feel for the different schools and collect some handbooks and school swag. Your high school will likely arrange a visit however you can also speak to your guidance department for more information.
Some questions you might want to ask include:
How many students are on campus? (would you feel more comfortable on a small campus or a larger one)
What are your most popular programs? (it’s always good to know what a university specializes in)
How many active clubs and associations are there? (York boasts over 300 hundred!)
What resources do you offer to help students be successful? (We have a career centre, free counselling services, workshops, and more)
2. Discovering what you want to do.
One thing that I remember about Grade 12 is how much pressure there was to figure out which school and which program I wanted to study. There were far too many options and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t decide. Looking back I wish I had just worked and gained life experience until I had a better idea but thankfully there are also other options available such as undecided majors.
Undecided majors, such as the one offered at York, allow you to choose a variety of courses in first year so that you can find where your interests and strengths lie. Other useful resources include sites like Career Cruising which can build a profile off of your skillset and personality and provide jobs that might be a good fit.
However there is something else important to consider – you are always allowed to change your mind. Many students change their majors once or even twice. They might add minors, remove them, add a different one, and keep switching their degree until they find the perfect fit. Some students know what they want to do right away and stick with that until the graduate four years later – both options are perfectly okay.
I actually started at a different university in Life Sciences before realizing that I would thrive on a different minded campus and so I came to York to study Psychology and I’ve loved it ever since. I even added a Children’s Studies major on this year as I’ve got closer to what I really want to do with the rest of my life. So try to find a starting path for yourself but don’t worry if you aren’t 100% sure if it’s what you want. You have to start somewhere 🙂
3. Applying to universities.
Applications are usually sent out around mid-January which gives you a rough idea of how long you have to decide to which schools and programs you want to apply. 3 options are included in the OUAC application, however you can certainly pay for more if that’s something you can afford and are interested in.
Some students use each option for the same program at different universities, others use all three for different programs at their preferred university and others choose different blends. Also don’t forget that you do have an opportunity to apply to program changes as a current university and you may also receive alternate offers so if you don’t get accepted to your top pick, you still have an opportunity to switch and study in a different program. A lot of programs share a similar first year so you aren’t ‘wasting’ any money either – your courses will likely still count towards your degree or as electives.
You might also want to consider touring before and after your apply. Going on a tour before you apply gives you a better feel for the environment you will be spending the next chapter of your life in and going on a tour after you apply but before you accept any offers is a good way to confirm this. York has tons of great tours available with amazing ambassadors so make sure you come to at least one!
4. Getting the requirements.
Applying to university can be tricky, but you should have a strong application as long as you meet any requirements including a minimum GPA, any pre-requisites, and for some programs – completing a necessary supplementary application or portfolio.
If any of these are necessary they should be found on the respective program page. I also caution you to avoid just aiming for the minimum average. Many programs at York are quite competitive and the minimum can shift from year to year based on the other applicants GPAs.
A better goal would be to aim for the best that you can do and if you have to do a supplementary application or portfolio, make sure you start well in advance so you don’t feel stressed about it last minute. You might want to collect your best art, get more volunteer experience, or ask around for reference letters depending on program and application.
5. Enjoying your final year.
It can be pretty easy to get caught up in the academic side of your final year with all the hard work that is needed to get into university. However this last year is a great opportunity to really enjoy the high school environment for one last time. Thank your teachers for all their help and listen to any words of wisdom they offer you. Go on spontaneous adventures with your closest friends and print the pictures to make friendship scrapbooks between you to remember those happy moments while you are away. Set an example for the younger students and stand up for what you believe in. There are so many things you can do, big and small, that will help you enjoy your last year of high school in a way that is significant to you. Just push aside whatever is holding you back and go for it!
Well this is it, my top five goals to consider for your last year. If you have any questions or comments feel free to sound off below or tweet us at @YorkUstudents 🙂