No two of our Grads are cut from the same cloth (except, perhaps the two sets of twins!). They each have their own vision, priorities, and notion of what makes a post secondary choice right for them; what makes it a fit.
As we interviewed these students about their thoughts and processes for marking out their next phase in life, we discovered a few common threads that run amongst the Grad Class of 2019.
We invite you to explore the diverse collection of stories below. From their cutting-edge programme goals, to the bespoke approach of our University Counselling team, we know that our students have put a great deal of time, energy and consideration into creating a future that is tailor-made for them.
I asked myself a lot of questions to help me narrow down where I’d like to attend university. Where would I be happiest? Where could I thrive in a diverse environment? What schools offer flexibility in case I change my mind about my area of study? Those factors helped me weigh pros and cons of each school to make the choice that is my best fit.
I wanted to be fearless and to try new things. While I could engage in a career in the sciences without studying medicine, I’ve decided to take a detour from the usual route, which I am confident will benefit me in the future. My parents and the Mulgrave University Counsellors helped me figure out the path I wish to take in my pursuit of the biological sciences. We discussed the application process for medical school and did practice interviews together. They also gave me feedback on my resume, application, and essays.
I feel like I’m going to a place where I can further explore my interests in science. I believe my studies of medicine will, in the future, offer me occupational flexibility in the field in which I choose to work. The programme specifics really spoke to me, and I look forward to pursuing my desire to do scientific research alongside learning how to be an excellent doctor.
My twin and I are going in different directions. She had ‘the feeling’ for NYU, just like I did for HKU, and while our mom wanted us to stay together, we think this is good for both of us.
For me, deciding amongst my acceptances was driven largely by location. I love the environment, pace of life and opportunities presented by living in Asia. I’ll have things to do that will help me balance my academics - things I love, such as language, arts and pop culture.
If I told my Grade 10 self that I’d pursue Middle Eastern Studies, I would have thought I was crazy! But conversations with my University Counsellor really helped me gain confidence in what I want to study.
As far as picking Cambridge, there are a few things that helped me come to a decision - scholarships, the programme and opportunity to study a language in another country for a year (I’m thinking of going to Jordan), and the interview process. The interview panel was made up of my future professors and heads of the department, so I had the chance, right off the bat, to connect with them. It all felt very natural and was a really interesting conversation, so I knew it would be right for my learning style. The whole processes showed me that they are very invested in carefully choosing the students they want to study there.
My University Counsellors opened my eyes to both a programme of study and the idea of going to the UK. In Grade 10 I had no idea what I wanted to do, and they encouraged me to think about the things in my life that inspire passion.
In Grade 10, my focus was on US universities, but after working with my University Counsellor, I was able to see that the UK was more suitable. They are subject specific and academically rigorous. All of this was important to me - I want to study Chemistry with molecular physics because it’s a foundation for my future aspirations, but I still have the flexibility to take other courses should my plans change. I also prefer to live in urban areas and there’s a particular aura to the Imperial campus that I can’t explain, but I knew it was right.
Because the school year is different in Australia, I’m still in the application process, but I’ve narrowed down my list to University of New South Wales for Architecture and University of Sydney. My entire extended family lives in Australia, and my brothers are also there; I’ve lived in South Korea and Norway, as well as Vancouver, so I’m excited to go home and stay for a few years.
My family and I went to the UK last summer and stopped in at Oxford. I hadn’t decided to apply there, but I went on a tour with a PhD student and it really opened my eyes to the school being a fit. It checked a lot of my boxes - amazing faculty, fantastic library resources, and incredible research opportunities. It’s a big university with a lot of choices, but because of the college system it still has a community feel.
At the end of the process, I realised that some of the things I thought were most important to me could be achieved in ways other than through a programme. For example, if I still want to do music, I don’t need to take it as a class, I can still explore and study in different ways. It’s all going to be what I make it.
Choosing to even apply to Stanford was a bit daunting. With acceptance rates below 5%, I didn’t have high expectations going in. When the envelope arrived, I cried as I opened it, thinking that it was a gracious decline, but the tears genuinely started flowing when I realised that I had been accepted! It wasn’t until that moment that I really allowed myself to embrace my desire to go to a strong liberal arts school where I would have the opportunity to explore subjects varying from international relations to artificial intelligence, and wait to declare an interdisciplinary major until my second year. With this path, I know that I will have so many opportunities to refine my journey towards a career that might include business, technology and human rights.
I never thought I’d want to go to a women’s college; there are a lot of stereotypes and I had an impression already in my mind. But I visited the campus and spent a few hours talking to someone who went to Wellesley a few years ago. I liked the feeling that I got while I was there and discovered that while there is competition amongst students, the focus is really on lifting everyone up; it has a real sense of community.
I had to reconcile that I had different views than my family on which colleges were the best in terms of name, prestige, and future job prospects. My University Counsellor helped me figure out the best fit for me and navigate that communication with my parents. I’m glad I stayed my path; my parents understand and support my decision.
"Think beyond reaching out to current students and alumni from your school. Connect with graduates from the university who are professionals in your chosen field. Look through the profile of professors for experts and interesting research happening at the university. They will all become part of your network."
Leah Verdone, Director of University Counselling
No question, I wanted to go to New York; to be near Broadway and close to auditions was so important. Fortunately, AMDA wanted me too and made me an offer at the beginning of the year. I was on campus over the summer at a camp - it was an amazing experience, and I was even able to stay in the dorms where I’ll be my first year. Lots of people from my group are going back for school, so it’ll be great to know people when I start.
My University Counsellor was really helpful throughout the process. If I didn’t have her to walk me through everything, I would have been lost. There were so many parts to my application, and she did everything from reminding me of deadlines to explaining what universities are looking for in essays and writing submissions.
I decided that I wanted to stay in Canada to be close to family and so that I could fully enjoy the last few years of my high school experience without being consumed by SATs. I did a lot of research on the best nursing schools in the country and talked to a Mulgrave alum who is in the programme at Dalhousie; we’ve become quite close and those conversations helped me find clarity. I want a programme that’s small enough to get to know my classmates. Anything bigger is a bit outside my comfort zone.
I decided on Imperial College London for its strong engineering programme and academic focus. Attending university in the UK will let me to directly enter a masters programme and Imperial’s strong industry connections will aid me in the job market after graduation.
At Imperial, I can also begin specialising in electrical engineering in my first year, which will help with my post-grad goal to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics. Other factors that influenced my decision were the smaller class sizes, private tutor sections, and quality dorm accommodations.
My long-term intention is to go into medicine, and I knew I wanted to stay in Canada for my first degree. That really narrowed my choices in terms of where to apply. I’ve decided to go to UBC (where I’ll join my brother) because their programme allows me flexibility in course selection.
Both of my parents are engineers, and I wanted to pick a course of study that would teach me a principled and methodical approach to learning. Johns Hopkins offers a rich academic atmosphere, yet it’s a small private school where everyone is connected and can push each other forward.
My University Counsellor and teachers helped me a lot during the application process, and throughout Senior School. They spent extra time with me reviewing practice papers, offered moral support during the stress of American universities’ early decisions, and helped with references. I was so happy to receive my first acceptance letter and couldn’t wait to share this joy with them!
I chose the Queen's Commerce programme for its reputation and structure. It is dynamic and progressive, having changed in recent years to adopt a more case-based model. Class sizes are very small with a maximum of 75 per class even in first year getting even smaller in the upper years. They also have among the greatest number of financial job placements of any school in Canada, which gives me an excellent chance of getting a job in corporate finance in Toronto, which is my goal.
"It's easy to be swooned by an Ivy, but does it have the programme that best fits your long-term goals? Dig deeper into the rankings and evaluate the programme itself as well as the breadth of courses offered in your desired area of focus. Do you want to enter into a specialty or explore within a general field? This should all be factored as you think about fit."
Luke Lawson, Director of University Counselling
I toured the schools where I had applied to see what clicked. When people say you walk onto campus and you just know, it’s true - there’s a definite vibe that you pick up on quickly. At UofC, I feel like I’ll be able to build social connections and finally find my tribe - that’s really important to me.
UofC offers entry in the Social Work programme in third year, and also has incredible campus services such as learning support - those were two big factors in my decision. It’s also nice to know that I am still only an hour flight from home.
I picked UBC because of the diverse, international nature of the student body; I didn’t really realise how much that mattered to me until I visited other schools. Having been at international schools all my life, where students have a global perspective, it’s something I really appreciate. The programme offered also really helped me choose. I can do a Masters in Management as well as a degree connected to environmental sustainability, and I can do it in four-and-a-half years.
It’s also great that some of my classmates are going to UBC, and I’ll be rooming with a fellow Mulgrave grad. My sister regretted that she didn’t know anyone on her first day of university and that stuck with me.
The school’s location and environment are really important to me. I knew I wanted to go away from home, but also that I wanted a closed campus - one that’s really geographically separated - because there tend to be fewer commuter students and it’s easier to establish strong relationships. Deciding between Queen's and Western is tough as both have a lot to offer. In the end I chose Western because they have just finished a new building for Engineering, and I have a lot of friends already at the school. They also have the biggest Ismaili Students Association in Canada which offers a lot of support.
Touring campuses really defined my search and helped me decide where I wanted to apply. It’s really important to get a feel for the campus. In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to overlook local options. I did get accepted into schools in the US, which were appealing for the athletic experience, but I decided that while they would be new and exciting for me, they just weren’t a fit. A full tuition scholarship to UBC also helped make the decision easier!
I decided to attend St. Francis Xavier University as I felt the smaller class size, interaction with professors, and close community made it the best fit for me. When I went during Spring Break, I received a very warm welcome. The dean personally approached me, knew my name and application info, and welcomed me to the school.Bronwen Campbell
I’m going to the University of Toronto because I have lots of family in the area, and when I went to visit the campus I just loved it. I am studying Social Sciences because I'm really not sure what I would like to do in the future. With this programme, I can take a huge variety of different courses.Andrew March
"Plan a visit to the campus. This will offer a great opportunity to get a feel for the culture of the school and its surroundings. Are you looking for a big campus? Is diversity important to you? Many universities offer virtual campus tours and robust 'Campus Life' sections on their websites that connect prospective students with students on campus."
Joyce Tang, University Counsellor
I wanted to stay in Canada and was looking for a school with good emphasis on literature and writing. My University Counsellor helped me uncover the career path that I was leaning towards, even though I hadn’t yet realised it - Asian literature translations. In the end, I chose UBC because they have a strong languages programme, and I enjoy the campus.
I’ve been working with my University Counsellor since Grade 10. She helped me shape my application and taught me how to ‘brand myself’. Even more importantly, she was my voice of reason. She challenged me to think about why I had an arbitrary attachment to some of the schools I applied to.