The Path to University Starts With Self-Reflection

Written by BFIS Staff

The process of going to university begins with personal reflection. It is important to take time to consider your interests, goals and passions before choosing a career and deciding on higher education. Our College Counselor Rhonda Leshman explains some key points for you to have a clearer vision of your future and help you make an informed decision.

September is the start of the school year for most students and teachers. With one exception. The College Counselor. Once Grade 12 students submit most of their applications, it is time to get the Grade 11 students to think seriously about their future studies after BFIS.

Where do students start? With self-reflection. The transition from high school to college is filled with challenges, opportunities, and decision-making. Since the process of selecting a university is very personal, it must begin with self-reflection.

The search is not about pretty campuses or fancy facilities. It is not about rankings and reputations. The college admissions process must first and foremost be about the student.  What are the student’s strengths and challenges? What is in the student’s comfort zone? What are the student’s values, ambitions, goals, and interests?

In presentations, I use the slide below to list many criteria students and parents should be thinking about when embarking on the university search and admissions process. This is the starting point in a successful search. 

Self-reflection points for a student to consider

  • Distance from home, logistics of travel
  • Type of environment -city, suburban, rural
  • Course/major; school calendar
  • Size of college
  • What are the factors/criteria that are important to you?
  • Level of independence
  • Support system (where are family, and close friends living?)
  • Availability of housing
  • Social aspects
  • Filter advise from others
  • What’s important to you?
    • Research Opportunities
    • Internships, sports, etc.
    • The flexibility of the course
    • Keep criteria in mind

Family Communications

  • Distance from the home, support system
  • Tuition, room & board, cost of living
  • Expectations
  • Once a week meeting suggestion

If parents are inclined to talk too much about this topic, I recommend limiting conversation to an established time once a week, say dinner on Tuesday or Sunday lunch. At that point, a student can share what progress they have made and parents can ask questions. Unless a student brings up the topic at other points during the week, there is no college talk. 

The goal is to find a community where a student will thrive academically and socially.  Counsellors call this finding the ‘fit’ or ‘match’. Starting with self-reflection and identifying criteria of importance are the first steps. 

Many universities want to see students’ demonstrable interests and passions through committed and sustained engagement in related activities, rather than shallow involvement in a variety of subject areas and activities. 

It’s essential that students demonstrate their unique passions and interests to distinguish themselves from other applicants. Depth is more important than breadth.

With the right plan, and starting early, the college search doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Starting early, being reflective, and implementing a clear strategy will empower parents to help their students navigate this process with self-assuredness, clarity and purpose. 

It is my privilege and honour to guide students, and parents, to find the best ‘match’ for higher education.

Rhonda Leshman
University Counselor

CreaEscola Quality Certificate for Education Website