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I interrupt your turkey coma to bring you "Five Things Your Grade 12 Student Should Be Doing

The December break gives your Grade 12 student a much needed respite from the day-to-day routine and pressure of school.

Your child needs and deserves to rest and relax so they can go back to school refreshed and ready to tackle second term.

However, January to March is a very busy time for seniors, and one of the best ways to handle it successfully is to prepare for it in advance.

Here’s a list of 5 things you can do over the break:

1. Research universities and programs. If your student still hasn’t applied or doesn’t know what universities & programs he/she wants to apply for, encourage him/her to spend some time now to do online research and personal reflection to narrow their choices.

Students should apply to at least 3 schools. For choice of university consider size, location, quality, reputation, school community or “personality”, residence options, physical space/facilities, and anything else that matters to them.

For choice of program consider quality, reputation, options for further study, opportunities for co-op/internships/experiential learning/study abroad/research, employment forecast, etc.

Read more in the Globe & Mail’s The Big Decision: Which University is Right for You?

Also check out my blogs on making degree program decisions:

2. Apply for admission. If your student has not yet applied, read applications thoroughly and make sure you know deadlines for both admission and scholarships (they are sometimes different).

There are many factors that determine if a student is accepted to their choice of university and program but, generally speaking, applying early is a good idea because some programs have limited enrollment.

If your student is not accepted on their early grades (Grade 11 finals, first semester finals or mid-year grades), the Admissions Office will defer its decision and ask you to supply the student’s next set of grades for evaluation.

Read more in my blogs:

3. Apply for university funded scholarships. Once your student knows to what universities and programs he/she is applying, the next step is to apply for any university scholarships for which he/she is eligible. Some universities don’t offer a lot of entrance scholarships that you must apply for separately (many are "automatic" and based solely on grades), but most offer at least a few.

4. Research external scholarships. Make a list of external scholarships (ones offered by banks, community groups, associations, etc.) that your student qualifies for, and write down the deadline for each one.

You can find scholarship information online at and Scholar Tree. Both of these sites contain a lot of information, so be prepared to wade through it to get at the information you want. Or, better yet, your student (and you!) can create a profile and be matched with scholarships that fit your profile.

If you’re lucky, your child’s guidance department will keep a current updated list of scholarships online on the school’s website, or in a binder they keep in the Guidance Office.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter, where I post scholarship information regularly.

5. Apply for external scholarships. Determine which external scholarships your student will apply for. External scholarships means all those that are not awarded by universities.

Apply for all awards you can, but be realistic. Applying for scholarships is time consuming, especially if they require an essay.

If you don’t have time to apply for all of them, choose a couple and go for them.

Put the application deadline on your family calendar so you and your student have a visual of the deadline and how much time you have left to finish the application. Better still, put the information into an electronic calendar, with a reminder notification to be sent to you two weeks in advance of the deadline.

Also, be aware that most scholarship applications require at least one reference letter, so make sure to build in some time for that as well.

Other worthwhile activities your student can do over the break:

  • Read a great book, strictly for pleasure

  • Clean junk out of book bag and organize school notes

  • Clean up bedroom clutter, especially around the study area

  • Play board games

Best wishes for a restive and productive break!

For personal, one-to-one help with any of this stuff, please contact me to discuss my services.

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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