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University preparation

Learning to make the grade

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Getting through high school isn't the only goal for students-it's preparing for the pressures of first-year university.

"The most important factor affecting student success in the university environment is time-management," says George Vanderkuur, principal at Durham Secondary Academy in Ajax, Ontario. Between rigorous academic classes, required extracurricular programs and other social activities, private schools encourage students to manage responsibilities and plan their time well, says Vanderkuur.

But teaching kids how to effectively deal with their schedules is only part of the solution. The enforcement of dress codes, emphasis on punctuality, and codes of deportment that characterize the private school environment require students to develop self-discipline.

What's more, small classes and an emphasis on community encourage students to work together. This is important, as Vanderkuur points out, because "study groups are an essential component of a successful university experience, especially in the first year."

In the end, private schools are able to offer a lot more individual attention than students will get at university. But Vanderkuur says it's all tied to confidence and self-esteem, which are essential because, "in the postsecondary learning environment, the emphasis is on problem-solving and risk-taking."

Equip students with a combination of self-confidence and self-discipline and they'll be able to take first year university-and anything else life throws at them-in stride.

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