In June 2021, with their diplomas in hand, the newest class of St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) graduates walked through the courtyard, yellow brick halls, and finally the Students’ Arch for the last time as SMCS students.
While they weren’t the easiest final years, the Class of 2021 proved their resilience, going on to receive over 800 offers of admission to universities across the continent and are now beginning their first year in programmes and schools of their choice.
“It’s a common theme for our recent graduates to tell us how well prepared they felt for the first year of university, even in highly-competitive programmes like, for example, engineering, commerce, or health sciences,” says John Connelly, Director of Student Affairs at SMCS. “Admission officers have commented that the marks students earn at St. Mike’s are an excellent barometer of their prospects for success in difficult courses and programmes.”
The Guidance Department works with students across Grades 9 to 12 in transitioning to high school, making the best choices they can with course selection, as well as everything involved in planning for their post-secondary journeys.
“We are so proud of this extraordinary graduating class. Their hard work and perseverance have led them to many interesting and varied post-secondary destinations. It is tremendous to see so many of our students pursuing dual-degree, co-op, and other experiential learning opportunities,” says Connelly.
Read on to take a look at the following interesting examples showcasing the diversity of programmes that some of our graduates are pursuing:
Matthew Ganesh ’21
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Chemical Engineering/Aerospace Engineering
Matthew Ganesh chose to attend UCLA for the abundant S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math) opportunities in California. He’s currently studying chemical engineering but has plans to switch to aerospace engineering.
“I decided to switch in the summer after I was accepted as many of my passions include being an automobile and aviation enthusiast,” he says. “Mechanical and aerospace engineering line up perfectly with these passions.”
Prior to attending SMCS, Ganesh completed Grade 9 and 10 at two different schools which had offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) program or a gifted programme.
“I came to SMCS in eleventh grade and instantly noticed that this system was much more difficult in terms of the organization of coursework and managing my time over the semester system,” says Ganesh. “Instead of having to manage four courses at a time, I now had to manage eight, which meant that being more organized would be my key to success in all my courses.”
Ganesh shares this advice for future graduates: “I would say that they should start high school off strong with building work habits in their freshman and junior years and really put themselves out there so that they can build a solid academic and athletic profile over their four years of high school.”
Jeremi Kolakowski ’21
McGill University – Biomedical Sciences
Kolakowski was drawn to McGill’s biomedical sciences programme because of the hands-on learning opportunities available.
“Like St. Mike’s, McGill has so much to offer both within and beyond the classroom experience,” says the former Student Government President. “I gravitated towards this university because it values lab and research experience rather than just studies.”
Kolakowski credits SMCS with instilling valuable study habits that are already making a difference in staying organized in university.
“The greatest way that SMCS prepared me for university was time management,” he says. “Throughout the week, I have classes and labs during the day and track practice in the afternoons. Although my schedule seemed quite busy at first, SMCS taught me how to really prioritize my time for completing schoolwork.”
“SMCS has taught me to be well-rounded, and this incorporates what I am studying in school, the activities I take part in, and the interests that I have outside of the classroom. During my six years at SMCS, I learned that having a work-life balance is necessary and I will ensure that this stays with me during university and beyond.”
Andrew Lobo ’21
Harvard University – (Undeclared) Computer Science or Mathematics
“The biggest reason I chose Harvard was because of its liberal arts education,” says Lobo who hopes to study either computer science or mathematics with a secondary in economics when he is able to declare his major in his second year. “I wouldn’t be bound to taking a specific set of classes; rather, I could take classes in any subject area I want — something that many other universities do not offer.”
Small class sizes and networking opportunities were among other major reasons that influenced Lobo to attend Harvard.
“St. Michael’s really instilled in me an appreciation for learning,” he says. “Taking effective notes, keeping organized, and yes, doing a lot of homework are all habits from SMCS that are making a big impact on me already.”
Lobo also notes how important it was to learn how to properly manage his time in high school, now that he’s in university.
“The numerous leadership positions I held in high school taught me decision-making, organization, and humility,” he adds. “I am truly indebted to my teachers at SMCS, not only for preparing me for the rigours of an Ivy League education, but also for providing me opportunities to grow as a person.”
Christian Pierobon ’21
Queen’s University – Engineering
Playing to his strengths, Pierobon is studying engineering at Queen’s since he says the sciences and maths were always among his best subjects while at SMCS.
“I chose to study at Queen’s because they offer many different disciplines of engineering as well as nearly unlimited extra-curriculars and activities to do as an engineering student, including design teams and different engineering societies, just to name a few,” says Pierobon.
In addition to the non-semestered atmosphere at SMCS that Pierobon says helped ease his transition to university and the workload that accompanies it, he’s also grateful for learning how to take his studies outside the classroom.
“At university, I’m in lectures with 300 other students so I don’t often get to ask a question if I have one, so knowing how to teach myself something that the professor didn’t have time to go over, helps significantly,” he says.
For graduating students, Pierobon shares this: “Use the community around you. The first thing I did at university was start making new friends. While I still have the odd St. Mike’s friend around, I made sure to branch out to find new friends and build a network of people to both hang out with but also I’d be able to call upon if I needed help.”
Matthew Wren ’21
McMaster University – Health Sciences
Wren selected McMaster’s health sciences programme for its unique interdisciplinary approach to the domain of health.
“A big factor in me choosing the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSC) program was how small and welcoming the program is,” Wren adds. “Analogous to the culture at SMCS, you are more than just a number, and both students and faculty in the BHSC programme genuinely care about you and want to see you succeed.”
Wren also credits SMCS for aiding in his transition to post-secondary.
“The sheer workload that university throws at you is overwhelming, and while it is challenging, it was something that I had already experienced in my four years at St. Mike’s,” he says. “SMCS's rigorous curriculum instills a work ethic in you that pushes you to excel in whatever discipline you are passionate about.”
In terms of advice from our Guidance Department, Connelly says he frequently encourages Grade 12 graduates to enjoy their final year at SMCS.
“Grade 12 boasts a rigorous programme of study that requires a lot of commitment and focus, but it’s also a time for students to have some fun with their St. Mike’s brothers, to find new ways to contribute their talents to the school community, and to decide what they want their legacy to be as a graduating class,” he says. “While it’s important for students to position themselves well for success in the university admission process, it’s equally important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The Grade 12 year should be a time of joy and connectedness, not just a springboard to the next stage of the journey.”