Heads Up

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An Action Plan for the Summer

Summer is a great time for relaxing and rebuilding your energy. It is also the perfect opportunity to step outside the frantic pace of UCC and take a few moments to reflect and plan for your future:

1. As you know, the first stage in the university selection process is self-awareness. No matter what your plans are for the summer, you will have many opportunities to reflect on what you want to get out of the university experience and ultimately your future career. What do you like to do? What kinds of things excite or intrigue you? What do you seem to be good at? What subjects/activities do you dislike? What are your goals (academic, personal, social) for the next stage of your life?

One of your most important jobs at this stage of your life is to begin the process of defining yourself as a unique individual. While you can discuss these issues with other people (and sometimes should), you are the only person who can really discover the answer to these important questions.

2. All of you should update your career studies resume this summer. An increasing number of Canadian schools are asking students to provide a list of their extra-curricular activities, community service, or awards. If you know your applications will involve writing a personal profile or essays, check out what is required and at least prepare some first drafts. You know how hectic life is at UCC once classes begin: it is much easier to squeeze out time to revise an essay than to start from scratch!

3. Begin the process of building university awareness. Your summer plans may determine how you address this stage. If you are in an isolated camp or cottage, you may not have access to the internet or be able to undertake extensive university tours. But in most cases, you will have an opportunity to talk to people who have graduated from university or who are current university students. Ask them about their experiences; get them to talk about how they selected their program of study and their school. Your Maclean’s Canadian Universities Guidebook will fit easily into your duffel bag as well!

If you do have the ability to get on a computer, check out general sites such as SchoolFinder for in-depth profiles of programs at Canadian universities, UCAS for information about UK schools, or Big Future for links to US universities. Once you have narrowed your choices somewhat, the websites for individual universities will give you great information about curricula, activities, residence, scholarships, admission requirements, etc. Feel free to drop by the University Counselling Office and browse through our view books and calendars.

4. If your time is quite flexible, you and your family may wish to visit a few campuses over the summer. Many universities have summer courses in June and July; you can arrange a tour and may even arrange to sit in on a few lectures or speak with a professor in a particular department. Each university’s website will provide contact information. Many universities also rent out residence rooms—a cheap place to stay and a great way to get a sense of campus life (and cafeteria food!). If you visit one university, try to check out any others close by, even if they are not at the top of your list. You may be pleasantly surprised!

5. Remember that the more energy and thought you put into this process during the early stages, the less stress you will feel later on and the more likely you are to make good decisions. This is your future: isn’t it worth a little extra effort?