Thinking Ahead: 10 Ways to Prepare for Post-Secondary Today

Before you even complete your applications, there are many small things you can be doing to prepare for a smooth transition into post-secondary. In this week’s blog, we’ve put together some positive practices and goals you can put into action even now to help you gradually adapt to the increased demands of post-secondary!


1. Take Your Time Deciding

Doing online research and creating your OUAC account are great ways to start. Then, once you’ve developed your list of prospective schools and programs, reach out to your guidance counsellors and post-secondary admissions advisors to help you decide which ones best align with what’s important to you (i.e. atmosphere, size, location, career options). Be sure to attend your campus days and ask questions to get an understanding of what student life is like at that institution. It can also be helpful to sit down and discuss the transition process with someone in your network who has been through the process themselves: a parent, mentor, older sibling, or even a trusted teacher can be a wealth of information that you won’t necessarily find online or in a campus brochure.


2. Keep Challenging Yourself

Sure, senior year might seem like a great time to take easier electives courses to help you achieve those high marks for your top six. In reality, taking too many ‘easy’ courses can actually be detrimental to your post-secondary plans. Instead, try maintaining a good balance of advanced courses in your final year to help you prepare for the increased demands of post-secondary coursework. After all, success in difficult courses is a positive indicator to admission officers of your preparedness for post-secondary.


3. Learn to Organize Your Time

One of the biggest changes between traditional secondary and post-secondary courses is the amount of teacher support you will receive. If you’re taking self-paced courses with us online, then you’re already well on your way to developing the independence and valuable skills that will allow you to succeed in post-secondary!


 4. Perfect Your Art of Note-Taking

When you graduate to post-secondary, you leave the world of handouts and group activities and enter the lecture hall. Across many disciplines, and particularly in first- and second-year classes, the delivery of material is largely lecture based, which means now is the perfect time to master your note-taking technique! Do some research and test out various styles until you find the method that best suits your individual learning style. We guarantee that being able to take good, clear, legible notes will benefit you immensely as you transition into post-secondary.  


5. Become a Study Master

Just as the method of instruction in post-secondary becomes largely lecture-based, you’ll also likely find that the method of evaluation becomes largely test-based. To prepare for this, you’ll want to master your study methods. Whether its flash cards, explaining topics to a peer, or several short study sessions leading up to the test, now is the time to decide on the study method that works best for you and allows you to study most efficiently. In any case, be mentally prepared to study more than you have been.


6. Form Good Reading Habits

Like it or not, large amounts of assigned reading are the norm across many post-secondary disciplines. Many instructors assign reading assignments to be completed for each class, with up to 100 pages of reading per week. So, if you’re not currently in the habit of reading at least 30 minutes a day, now is the time to form that habit!


7. … and Break Bad Ones

It’s also a good idea to break the habit of skimming online summaries instead of actually reading the text, if that’s something you currently do. As you advance through post-secondary, the assigned readings will become more specialized, so scanning a summary before class won’t cut it. Do future you a favour and get used to doing your readings in their entirety. With that said, you can also learn to read more effectively to help reduce the amount of time you’ll spend reading, without affecting the amount of information you retain.


8. Expand Your Vocabulary

Professors in college and university will expect you to have a broader, more mature vocabulary by the time you enter their halls. You will come across more complex words in readings and lectures and will be expected to employ those same standards of register in your own essays and assignments. Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to expand your vocabulary is to read challenging material. In order to learn from challenging material though, it’s important to pause and define words that are unfamiliar to you. By paying attention to new words and internalizing their meanings, you will be able to augment your vocabulary significantly.


9. Practice Discipline

It’s an unfortunately common misconception among high school seniors that once you receive your acceptable letters, grades no longer matter. It’s been said before, but let us say it again: this is simply not the case! Colleges and universities do review your final grades and can revoke your acceptance. As if that weren’t bad enough, studies have shown that seniors who lose interest in high school tend to carry that lack of interest on into post-secondary, where it can lead to increased temptation to slack-off or skip classes, harming overall chances of success. So, as tempting as the pull of senioritis can be, exercise good discipline and keep those grades up!


10. Consider Your Ideal Path & Career Goals

As much as this blog is about preparing for post-secondary, it is also about preparing to leave high school and venture towards what comes next. As a pivotal turning point, this is a great opportunity to take some time and reflect on your future career and life goals. What are you looking for in a career? What will make you feel successful? Remember, this isn’t the time to get anxious about decisions or specifics. In all likelihood, you will change your mind as you mature into adulthood and prepare to enter the full-time workforce – and that is perfectly fine! However, it is still important to begin considering your goals and to keep them in mind to motivate you as you progress towards fulfilling them.