Our University Counsellors Answer Some Parent Questions

Alison McCallum

Earlier this month I made a short presentation to our school’s Parents’ Auxiliary to talk about the world of University Counselling at SMUS. It was a great opportunity to speak with a group of parents and field some questions about University Counselling.

We know SMUS parents have lots of questions about the university process, so here are answers to some of the questions I heard during that presentation. (If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to email me or any of our Academic Advisors.)

How do students know which college/university to pick?

We encourage students to determine what is most important to them individually (finding their “fit”) and then to look for sources that will give them information about whether a particular college/university will meet their criteria. If international reputation is an important factor, then students might look at rankings, including some that include the National Survey of Student Engagement. We talk with students about their interpretations of the rankings and help them consider their options from multiple angles.

How many students get into their “first choice” university?

We don’t ask students to designate a “first” or “top choice” university. We find that a student’s top choice often changes during their Grade 12 year as they do the intensive research about the programs and places. We encourage all students to apply to universities that they would be happy to attend. We encourage them to apply to those dream or “reach” schools, and also to apply to other great institutions that are truly a great fit for them.

Does SMUS offer a work experience program?

Not at the moment. It is something we have considered, but we don’t have resources or infrastructure to support it at this time. However, the Grade 10 Program encourages students to explore their career and post-secondary field of study interests through the experiential options they select, as does our University Counselling program, especially through the Grad Transitions courses (GTP) in Grades 11 and 12, and in one-on-one conversations with their Academic Advisor (who is also a University Counsellor). As of 2019, all graduating students in BC will have to complete 30 hours of “career related experience”; currently, all graduating students in BC have to complete 30 hours of “work experience (paid or unpaid) or community service hours”.

What kind of career education do students have in the Senior School?

Through a variety of experiences in the classroom, in our offices and in experiential activities, students have the opportunity to consider their values, skills, interests and abilities. They are led through reflection activities and are prompted to make the connection when thinking about their high school program and post-secondary planning. Some of this happens in Adventures in Learning 10 or GTP 11/12 classes, some happens in homerooms, and lots of that thinking is done out loud in the Academic Advising appointments.

How can I find out more?

The University Counselling team posts stories here on the SMUSpaper site regularly – click here to see all of the UC stories. We have a Google site for students (internal only), and rely on Naviance Family Connection as a hub for career and post-secondary planning for Grade 10-12 students. Parents also have access to Naviance and can see their daughter/son’s information on there by logging in using the email address that is on record with SMUS. If parents aren’t sure of the password, they can click “forgot my password” to reset it. If you have difficulties logging in, please email Sharon Buckingham.

Once again, if you have any other questions or would like to give feedback about our University Counselling program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s Academic Advisor or to me directly.

And if you have any other questions you’d like to see answered in a future blog post, please comment below!


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