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I am currently a grade 12 student and I have been doing competitive swimming on my local team for the past 7 years. I am not the fastest on my team, my times are around regional standard level, and I am contemplating if I should try out for varsity swimming next year. I love swimming but my only concerns are that practices will take up too much of my time and my marks will suffer. Right now I practice about 15 hours/week and school is easy to keep up with, my grades are easily in the high 90's. I am prepared for my average to drop next year, but my goal is to get into medicine or pharmacy post grad so I know I can't let my marks drop too much. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with varsity swimming at either McMaster or Queen's, what is the practice load like, how difficult is it to make the team, when should I reach out to the coach if I do decide I want to swim, and just any other comments or experiences with either of these teams would be super helpful! Thanks :)
Lots of people drop out of sports and don’t participate in physical activity because of the extra time commitment. Who wants to spend time sweating when you have multiple exams to study for? However, there are multiple benefits to juggling the two disciplines, including:
1. Time Management: I remember once in high school I had to skip track practice because I had a major assignment due the next day in one of my classes. The next day at practice, my coach told me that doing homework was not an acceptable excuse to skip practice and to get better time management skills. As my coach can be kind of scary, never again did I skip practice for school, and my marks didn’t suffer the consequence either. I have become better organized, self-disciplined, and more time efficient from balancing my sport and school workload.
2. Focus: Mental training is a huge component of any sport. You have to be able to block out any distractions keeping you from performing at your best. This can be really handy when you need to buckle down on an assignment or stay focused during an exam.
3. Decrease Stress: It is well known that physical activity is positively associated with reducing stress levels. Exercise is a huge benefit to reducing the stress associated with being a student.
4. Communication: You need to be able to communicate effectively with your coach and teammates in order to achieve success. Communication is a crucial skill to have when you have a group project or need to network.
5. Confidence: Sport is a great way to build your self-esteem and confidence levels. Having a good self-image will benefit you in all aspects of life, including the classroom.
6. Scholarships: Sports look great when applying for scholarships. The more scholarship money you receive, the less you will have to work to pay for school. The less you work, the more time you will have to work on your grades.
If sports aren’t your thing, staying physically active is also great for academic success and health!
Backpacking is something that is on the bucket list of most students. While you technically can’t do it with “no” money, it is possible to do on a student budget. Having backpacked to over 40 countries as a student, here are some of my tips for maximizing your travel dollar:
#1 – Student Discounts
Make sure you pack an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) before departing. Depending on your university, it is either free or $20 – either way, you’re eligible for some unreal discounts at major attractions like the Colosseum, Acropolis, and Louvre.
#2 – Intern Abroad
In second year, I worked at Henkel in Düsseldorf, Germany for 6 months. Every weekend, I was off to a new place. By booking my travel weeks/months ahead, I was able to take advantage of cheap bus/train/plane tickets for travel throughout Europe; I don't think I paid more than 45 Euros round-trip per weekend, and I went to places like France, Poland and Scandinavia. Interning abroad is a win-win because you require little savings to actually do it – your salary is your travel money.
#3 – Volunteer At A Youth Hostel
Since youth hostels are cheap, most require on volunteers/cheap labour to function. Many have volunteer programs where people can do different things (reception work, cleaning, bartending) in exchange for a bed (and sometimes meals). Each hostel has its own unique volunteer rules.
I volunteered at a hostel in Tallinn, Estonia for 4 weeks. For 7-14 hours of reception work per week, I had a bed to sleep in every night. Apart from making lifelong friends, I also backpacked to Sweden, Lithuania and Russia. Also, living in picturesque Tallinn for a month was incredible (Google it).
Have any budget travel tips? Would you do any of the above? Comment below!
Quantity vs quality is an age-old question for students everywhere trying to find a balance for their student portfolio. This isn't a post about how passionately you should invest yourself in your extra-curriculars but rather how you should allocate your time so that when application season comes for scholarships/programs, you will find that you have no problem filling out your supplementary applications.
Before I share my own method of approaching ec's, it's important to understand how they are often structured. More of than not, major supplementary applications ask for 1-3 essays with questions like "Describe what you consider to be your most significant volunteer contribution to date in terms of its value to your school or larger community. Why was it important to you and to others (word limit:300)?"-(Loran Scholarship 2016). In addition to essays, supplementary applications may ask for a list commitments ranging from school activities, sports, artistic pursuits, awards, employment etc.
The goal is to strike a balance between your extracurriculars so that you maximize your ability to apply for every scholarship/program without having to invest an unreasonable time on extracurriculars at the expense of a social and academic life.
Over the last four years, I have taken an approach that my mentor shared with me. It encompasses how you should differentiate between major and minor commitments as well as how varied each should be. By no means is this an exhaustive or foolproof equation but I have found success, having been invited for interviews with major scholarships as well as winning several smaller scholarships.
Major and Minor Commitments
Major Commitments (Have 2-3)
-Hours Committed for each: 100-300+
-Should be used for the major essays
-Should be a major part of your student journey (e.g. entrepreneurship, volunteering at a hospital weekly, etc)
-Demonstrate commitment, other important qualities, etc
-References from major commitments tend to be stronger
Minor Commitments (Have 8-15)
-Hours Committed for each: 5-10+
-Should be used for the lists (Refer above)
-Can be a one-time thing (e.x volunteering at a parade)
-Will not be discussed in detail so time commitment it is not a big issue
-Should be varied
-Should not only be school activities. Extra-curriculars should encompass commitments with out of school organizations as well.
-Having employment/entrepreneurship experience demonstrates time commitment, maturity, amongst other things
-Artistic Endeavors: Whether this might be being part of band, art club, etc. Artistic endeavors can usually help demonstrate that you are passionate about something beyond the usual scope of extra-curriculars that other students may have, therefore setting you apart.
-Physical/Team Involvement: Being part of the school team or something as simply as a playing badminton as a hobby can show that you are invested in working well with a partner, or a team trying to achieve a common goal.
By no means is what I shared going to guarantee you admission to a program or acceptance for scholarships. At the end of the day, having a variety of major and minor commitments is important. But equally as important is how well you portray yourself in your supplementary application so that you will distinguish yourself from all the thousands of other applications.
What did you think about my list? Do you agree or disagree? Have your own approach that you have found success? Share in the comments below!
Did you know that for Canada’s 150th birthday year, Ontario has a big push for 150 hours of community service to match? If 150 hours sounds out of reach and you are struggling to complete your 40 hours of community service in order to graduate, here are some tips to get you started:
2. Click on the link - Spark Ontario: This site allows you to narrow down your search based on the duration you would like to volunteer (ex. one-time, short-term, ongoing, or special events), groups in which you would like to work (ex. adults, seniors, youth, people with disabilities, people with English as a second language, or even opportunities online) and select a location that works best for you!
3. Volunteering doesn’t have to be boring if you find the right placement. I recommend picking a placement in an area you enjoy and would like to participate in even if it was a mandatory part of high school. Do you love to socialize? There is a panel on Spark Ontario called Friendly Visiting in which you can organize spending some social time with clients that do not have many social supports, in which you can play cards, video games or set up social outings like taking them out shopping.
4. Volunteer Toronto: Here is a great site where I found my current Girl Guides volunteer position for those living in Toronto. Most municipalities have a website dedicated to volunteering positions. Within a week, I was paired with enthusiastic young teenage girls, going door to door to selling cookies and helping them achieve the goals they set to achieve throughout their program. I look forward to attending the weekly meeting as it is a lot of fun, even as a leader!
5. By following this link, you can find out which organizations offer PREB-Ontario certificates. These certificates provide a record of your skills and achievements from your volunteer experience and can come in handy when preparing a resume or a professional portfolio.
Instead of watching another hour of Netflix a week, take the chance to help someone in need or clean up our amazing province for its 150th birthday! After all, a little goes a long way.
For some students, living at home is not an option. Their university of choice is out of province, the program of choice is not available in their local university, etc. The question is then: to live on campus, or to live off campus while completing your education?
Pros of living on campus
- You'll become immersed in your community and make life long friends.
-It's a risk-free form of independence
-You'll be able to walk everywhere
-Fees are all inclusive, so you don't have to worry about budgeting for rent and food
Con's of living on campus
.-You get what you pay for...even if you don't need it
-Mandatory meal plans
-Sharing a crowded bathroom might not be your idea of a good time
Have you lived on campus? tell us what you found amazing and what sucked in the comments below!
When we talk about scholarships, the two main traits that comes mind are Academic Excellence and Extra-Curricular Activities. Likewise, we often see having a “social life” as having a negative impact on our academic profile. Today, I am going to prove that this is a myth! Here is why having a social life can win you scholarships:
The Interview: If you are looking at major scholarships across Canada and within Post-Secondary Institutes, you will notice that your academic portfolio will only get you to the interview stage. After that, it is a new ball game and how well you communicate and present yourself will get you all the way to the end.
Builds Leadership Skills: Following up on the benefits for interviews, it is evident that through the enhanced ability to communicate, you are able to build leadership skills and be a role model towards others, which can then be reflected in both your EC’s and the interview.
The Network: It’s apparent in society that having a strong network of connections allows us to have more opportunities. This is the same for receiving scholarships, though more importantly, finding a job moving forward. So build strong rapports with those around you, get involved with faculty events, and meet new people!
March break is known for people flying off to exotic destinations in hope of escaping the cold and/or stresses of life back home. However, travel is not for everyone. If you are a non-traveler here are some tips on what to do this March break:
1. Catch up on school work: If you are behind on your school work or would like to boost your average in hopes of getting into post-secondary school, dedicate some time this break towards bettering your study habits! Reviewing, organizing and making study notes will better prepare you for the last few months of school and towards acing those final exams.
2. Job shadowing: If you have connections in the area you are interested in studying, I would suggest spending a few days in the life of a professional. Real-life experience is the best way to find out if you will enjoy a particular career. There is nothing worse than getting half way through your practicum at the end of your degree to find out your dream job isn’t what you expected.
3. Be Active: There are a whole bunch of ways to have fun while staying active instead of counting down the minutes you spend on a treadmill. I recommend trying something new to keep a variety in your workout routine to prevent boredom. If weather permits try skating, skiing/ snowboarding, horseshoeing, rock climbing, or go dancing. There are tons of ways to stay active if you don’t like the traditional gym setting.
4. Explore your own city: You don’t have to travel somewhere new to sightsee and have fun exploring. Chances are there are a bunch of fun things to do in your hometown or city. I would recommend visiting a new museum (or one you haven’t visited since childhood), trying a new restaurant, or hitting up some live entertainment. The possibilities are endless!
5. Catch up with friends and family: Sometimes when you get caught up with your school work and extracurricular activities/ jobs you don’t have the time to spend quality time with your loved ones. March break is an excellent time to do something fun or catch up with someone you haven’t seen or talked to in a while.
Hey everyone, I thought it'd be nice to make a new thread for those that were accepted into the Gene Researcher for a Week Program and any questions that may arise (there is a similar thread for 2016).
Whether you’re looking for something to relax with, or are making “reading more” a new year’s resolution, there are always perks to reading. I love that you can delve into another world and live the lives of hundreds of new people just by turning some pages. With help from various sources, and my personal experiences, I’ve compiled a list of must-read books. This list is in no particular order because all of the books were too good to try to scale in numerical order!
1. Adulting: How to become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps,Kelly Williams Brown
This book is exactly what it sounds like – a how-to guide on how to be, and function like an adult. Have you ever had to call your mom from college, because you didn’t know how to make real food, let alone Kraft-Dinner? Because I’ve done that before. Have you ever taken a photo of the washing machine in your building and texted it to your mom because she did your laundry until you moved out when you were 18? My older sister did as soon as she left for college. I know this book sounds absolutely absurd, and like it couldn’t be useful at all, but it surprisingly is!
Based on Kelly William Brown’s popular blog, ADULTING makes the “real worl” approachable, and manageable. Some things you’ll find in the book is:
• What to check for when renting a new apartment-Not just the nearby bars, but the faucets and stove, among other things.
• The secret to finding a mechanic you love-Or, more realistically, one that will not rob you blind.
• Tackling your bills and your debt
2. Taking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), Lauren Graham
A New York Times bestseller, Talking as Fast as I can, is a must read! If you’re a Gilmore Girl fan, there is no doubt that you were probably anxiously awaiting the revival to come to Netflix on November 25th. Now, you can read a collection of personal essays by Lauren Graham (Lorelei Gilmore!) where she reveals stories about life, love and working as a women in Hollywood – and who doesn’t want a little behind-the-scenes look into what it was like filming the Gilmore Girls revival?
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them: The Original Screenplay,J.K Rowling
Growing up, I was addicted to Harry Potter. I’ve noticed that right now we’re in that strange no man’s land of people old enough to remember the first release of the Philosopher’s Stone (guilty.) and those who were far too young to be involved in the craze – but thankfully, J.K Rowling has opened the world of magic to us unworthy muggles again! I may be a bit biased, and super nerding out, but I highly recommened Fantastic Beasts. It was such an easy read, and was filled with quick wit and plenty pages of great humour (if you like sarcasm like myself, you’ll definitely be a fan of Jacob!) For those of you who were Harry Potter fans – the whole concept of Albus’ deceased sister makes so much more sense now! You have to read it!
4. The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins
With the recent release of this movie in theatres, this 2015 bestseller resurfaces as a must-read. An Excerpt from Chapters Indigo reads “Three women, three men, connected through marriage or infidelity. Each is to blame for something. But only one is a killer in this #1 New York Times bestselling psychological thriller about human frailty and obsession.”
5. The Book Thief,Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is about a foster child who lives in Germany at the beginning of World War II. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. The Book Thief is an absolutely heartbreaking read (but an amazing one) that reminds us of the importance of books, and how they have the ability to feed our souls.
6. The Girl Who Came Home, Hazel Gaynor
This is another read if you like a historical aspect in your book, like me! It is a bit older of a book, but equally as good! The book flips between seventeen year old, Maggie Murphy in 1912 Ireland, and Grace Butler, her great-granddaughter, in 1982. The book blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic’s impact and the aftermath on the survivors and their descendants. I read this book in less than three days, I was so captivated with it.
7. 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher
“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.” – This book is perfect for those who like the mystery aspect, but I found this book to be super powerful. Thirteen Reasons Why changed me. It made me step back from my life and realize that every action I take affects someone else, whether it be good or bad. (This is something I was already aware of, but this book definitely but it into a bigger perspective.)
8. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, J K Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Sorry not sorry for another book by or related to J.K Rowling - I couldn't resist. Although this one screams "fan fiction" and feels like you're reading something completely absurd if you're a diehard J.K fan, it is surprisingly a fantastic read!
9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children,Ransom Riggs
This one some of you may have already read to prepare for the release of the movie this year, but just in case you haven't, i'm here to plant the bug in your head. You should read it! Even though I feel books will always trump the movie, this one was practically a tie. If for some reason you haven't watched the movie yet, I highly recommend reading the book. It's impeccable.
10. Humans Of New York: Stories,Brandon Stanton
Looking for some inspiration? Try reading Humans of New York: Stories. It's a bit more of a light read for those with heavy course loads, and minimal time to delve into a large novel. It's the perfect combination of photographs and stories. Like an adult picture book!
No matter whether you utilize this list or not, I hope that 2017 will suck you into different realms, and stories through the books of the past, present and tomorrow.
Read on, bookies!
Residence is a really big deal and I want to make sure I pick the right one. I think that I want Ontario Hall, it seems like the perfect mix of privacy while still having a social atmosphere, and it's really new looking. I also heard the food is really good lol, what's your opinions on the best residences?
Does anybody know when SHAD acceptances are for the 2017 program? I remember when submitting the application, it said they would keep us updated on our application process. I haven't really heard from them other than an e-mail wishing a happy new year..does this mean I've been rejected??
The biggest thing I learned this past semester is that it is sometimes ok to say no. At the beginning of every semester, I get ambitious and feel like I can take on the world. I say yes to anything and everything that comes across my path. At first, it’s great, but once mid-terms come around everything begins to pile up and become overwhelming. Maybe taking classes, being a full-time competitive athlete, volunteering, working, studying, and starting an art project is too much to handle at one time. When you take on too many things at one time, your performance is compromised. Instead of excelling at one or two things, you are putting in a mediocre effort at 4-5 things. I have learned it is best to prioritize what is most important in your life and concentrate on your number one or two goals.
Is there anything that you wish you had done differently this past semester? Or throughout your years of school?
Hi, I was wondering if I could use trading equities/stock as an EC? I've been day/swing stocks in my free time for a couple years now and have made some very good returns. Can I use this as an EC on my application or is it just a hobby?
One of the most exciting times of the year for a student is the beginning of a new semester. Whether we are in university or high school, the thrill of going to a new class, meeting new people, and starting off with a new slate academically is encouraging. As we progress through the months, we lose this excitement, however. To be successful, we must have the endurance to carry that energy throughout the entire semester, and that requires having a good start! Here is my list of ideas for starting of the second semester right!
1. Setting Reasonable Goals
Setting reasonable goals allows us to not only measure our success throughout the entire semester but also gives us a roadmap towards much larger dreams that we have. Ultimately, it is important to ensure they are achievable so that we can stay motivated in knowing that we are able to reach them (And also gives us that confidence boost when we do achieve them)!
2. Get Ahead of the Game
While we have that extra energy in the first couple of weeks of the semester, it is important that we do not fall behind as the semester carries on. The best way to ensure this is to get ahead of your work early and to try to keep that lead moving forward. That does not mean trying to get through the entire course in the first week of school, but may consist of doing pre-readings for the week’s lectures the weekend before class.
3. Seek New Opportunities
Did you see a club event going on and wish that you could have gotten involved with them last semester? Well this is your chance! Not only are clubs looking for new members in the brand new semester but new clubs and programs are just starting up as well! Get involved and be an active part of the campus community!
4. Budget Your Spending
Yes, we all have that urge to spend all that Christmas money that we received over the holidays on that new sweater or a cup of coffee from Starbucks, but resist that urge! Create a budget for yourself so that you are able to make that money last through the entire semester (After all, we ultimately need it most when we are pulling those all-nighters studying for finals, am I right?).
5. Create a Timetable
One of the most helpful things that I have done throughout the year is to create a timetable of all the activities that I am involved in. This does not only allow you to visually see your schedule but also hold you accountable to what you are committed to doing (And yes, you should include an allotted 8 hours of sleep in that timetable because it is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle!).
Did you find this post helpful? Comment your thoughts and questions below and feel free to share your own experiences with the yconic community!
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Not only is it the short downtime we, as students, have from the huddle and bustle of school, it's also the holidays! It's the season of giving! As students it's not uncommon for money to be tight this time of year, however seeing as it is the season of giving, I've compiled a little list of suggestions on how you can give back on a budget!
There are so many organizations and charities that currently need volunteers to help them get through the holiday season, try volunteering some your time to help a good cause. Contact the local soup kitchen or shelter in your area and ask if they could use a your help. A few hours is simple to set aside and it's free!
2. Donate to an organization, or charity
As a student, of course, I am on a strict budget, however, I always try to do my due diligence and support a cause I find near and dear to my heart. I'm not saying that you have to donate hundreds of dollars, any donation, no matter how big or small, means something significant to the organization. For me, all of my pets that live with me are rescue animals. Animals are a huge part of my life, and always have been. This morning while finishing up my Christmas shopping, I noticed that soft cat food was on sale at my work. I spent $20 on 48 cans of food, and donated it to the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society this morning while I was out and about. I know that there is an over abundance of cats in the local shelter, so helping provide enough food for them for even a day or two gave me warm fuzzies, and it's a nice feeling to be able to contribute!
3. Pay it Forward
If you're anything like me, you probably need a daily dose of caffeine in the morning (I'm partial to my Starbucks runs!) Try paying for the car behind you in the drive thru, or the person behind you in line. I try to make a habit out of doing it once a week. You can really perk up someone's day with spending less than five dollars on them! I always tell the worker to tell the next driver to pay it forward if they ask why I'm paying for their order!
4. Be Chivalrous
It's the little things in life that matter the most… Try opening a door for stranger. It's the little things that can bring joy to someone else. It's free, why not?
5. Random Acts of Kindness
One year I ran around town attaching loonies to little cards that said "Enjoy a little gift on me" to gumball machines, and parking metres. It's all about the little random acts of kindness that can really brighten a person's day. It's minimal effort and money!
It's the season of giving. Try spreading the happiness the season brings by giving back!
Life gets hectic, especially for students. Sometimes it feels like we can get stuck in a hectic cycle of never-ending work, sleep, and classes. It’s important to establish a few goals to fully understand what you want to accomplish on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. The new year is right around the corner, so it’s about time to pull out that new calendar and mark a few things into your schedule.
1. Daily Goals: Setting a goal for your daily life is a big undertaking. It takes determination and perseverance to stick to a daily goal. I would recommend that if you do make a daily goal for the new year, don’t make it too big. For example, maybe you want to start keeping a daily journal. Even just spending 10 minutes doing this each day is an accomplishment.
2. Weekly Goals: Dedicate a bit of time each week, whether it be on the weekend or mid-week, on relaxing or doing something you enjoy. Even if you’re stressed and have lots to do, your mental health is important! Block off a special hour or two every week to curl up with a book, take a nap, listen to music, or another relaxing activity. (I would recommend staying away from your phone and have more of an inward focus during this time.)
3. Monthly Goals: These goals can be a bit larger. What’s something you want to accomplish by the end of one month? Maybe you want to write a song. Maybe you want to complete a new piece of art. Maybe you want to learn origami, or write some letters for relatives or friends. It could be anything. You can work on your monthly goal whenever you have some spare time.
4. A Goal For the Year: This could be a large-scale goal. It could even be related to your monthly goals. (For example, if you write a song every month, you could have an album by the end of the year.) Maybe your annual goal is to learn a new language. It could also be a more simple goal, like meeting 10 new people, or doing 10 random acts of kindness for strangers.
Personally, I’ve found that making goals and following through with them has been a very enriching experience, as it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and it gives your days more meaning. In fact, having things to work towards has pushed me to get my schoolwork done more efficiently too.
Let us know what goals you’re setting for the New Year in the comments below!