Haleema's Declassified Grade 12 Success Guide:
By Haleema Khan • Schulich Leader at University of Toronto
When I think back to senior year, I think of all of the teachers who helped me do well in my courses, the students who responded to all of my university related questions on Facebook without hesitation, and all of the appointments with my school's guidance department, to get my stressful decisions sorted out. Every little bit helped, and without all of the support I received in my senior year, I wouldn't be able to write this blog post today. This is a post for all of the senior students in their final year of high school who are preparing for post-secondary life. Using the things that I learned in my senior year, I have compiled a guide to help you reach success in grade 12. Hopefully these tips can serve some use to you!
1. Enjoy a few meaningful involvements.
In your grade 12 year, getting involved is very important. Not only does this build your practical skills, but it enhances your character and gives dimension to your post-secondary applications. Remember to focus on quality and not quantity. Don't overly involve yourself in extracurricular activities as a means of building your resume or scholarship essays. Focus on a few meaningful involvements that help build your character and which you can learn from. A lot of post-secondary applicants (especially scholarship applicants) are highly involved in extracurriculars and have strong grades. It's what they take away from all of these involvements that separate them from the rest. That is the key: making yourself stand out. Remember you are an individual unlike any other – find what makes you, YOU, and use that to your advantage!
2. Aim for 100 in everything you pursue.
This seems a little bit over the top, but it is one of my biggest motivations in school. Just think about it for a minute, people tend to fall close to their aims right? So, prepare yourself with the mindset of achieving 100% on the lab, the test, or the exam and you will simply fall in the right range. This corresponds with the quotation "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars." Be a star!
3. Don't obsess.
This is huge. If you take away one message from this post, remember this one! Failures and challenges are important. It was in May that I found out I had received the Schulich Scholarship from the University of Toronto; I had applied for a lot of other scholarships that I did not receive and it was tough to move forward from that. But it's important to recognize that your attributes may not necessarily be what judges are looking for and that's okay. Eventually other opportunities will come by that suit you. Remember to enjoy your grade 12 year and don't be too discouraged if you don't get exactly what you're looking for. Trust me, university is a whole other game so be sure to appreciate your grade 12 year and don't dwell on small failures and challenges- instead learn from them and do better next time. There are countless opportunities out there!
4. Be prepared for change.
My dad told me throughout my grade 12 year to keep my options open, and looking back now, I realize I should have taken this piece of advice more seriously. I remember that I did not originally rank the program I am in now as my first choice on my OUAC profile. I was conflicted between pursuing a program in engineering or the sciences. I applied to 5 different programs at 4 different schools and I toured all of the schools except for the University of Toronto (I toured the University of Toronto campus after accepting my Schulich offer). Needless to say, things don't always happen as you plan or expect them to, so keep your options open from the start. Complete the paper work and supplementary applications for all of the schools you apply to because you never know how things will work out in the end.
5. Take time to appreciate the people around you.
After entering university, I only really began to appreciate my mom's homemade food. The monthly care packages do help out though. Make sure you take some time to thank your family for being a supportive net through all of your downfalls, thank your guidance counsellors and teachers at school for helping you prepare for life after high school, thank your friends for all of the cafeteria conversations and late night Timmies runs—these are the people you may not see when you are in university.
Enjoy your senior year! At the end of all of the stresses, tears, and existential crises, the victory dab with your squad at graduation is what makes the whole journey worthwhile.