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The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades 9 TO 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)

Braemar College:

Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Braemar College (2021)

Braemar College alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Liam, Erica, Maksym, Sasha, Bill Kidman had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Liam — alum

Liam attended Braemar College in Grade 12. He is now starting at Trent University’s school of education majoring in history and philosophy. Liam appreciated the manageable course load and low student-to-teacher ratio at Braemar.

  • “One of the things that I appreciated about the school when I was there was the course load because there were only two classes at the time, it was very manageable, and I was rarely overwhelmed with schoolwork. And now looking back on it, I think a lot more high schools should be like Braemar because [it] much better prepares students for university.”
  • “The course load is very different from most other schools that really sets it apart, but also it's much more diverse than other schools. And it has a much lower ratio of students to teachers, which makes it easier to get in contact with them.”
  • “I think the school definitely did help me prepare for university because it had me do larger assignments than I had done in past high schools, and learning to manage time like that really helped me in university.”
  • “I like the way [my teacher] Mr. Dunsmore talked. [He] was very calm, competent, and also very passionate, willing to answer questions and encourage students to participate.”
  • “I feel Braemar really prepared me too, by having me to write university-level essays in high school really set me up properly.”

Erica — alum

Erica graduated from Braemar College in 2012, received her Bachelor’s degree from Ryerson University and Master’s degree in Business from Hult International Business School in the United States. She appreciated the managerial experience of being a President at Braemar.

  • “I think the thing I most appreciated when I was studying there and I still appreciate it to this day is the opportunity that the school gives to people to express yourself and to show your best qualities, to be in charge and to practice managerial abilities. For example, I was a president of the student union and I had a lot of opportunities to organize different events, to do different activities, [and] to gather people together that helped me tremendously in my life because I'm running my own company now. And the skill of managerial ability and expressing yourself, I’d say, was the most vital in my experience up to date.”
  • “I think this is the one and only school with so much international balance that you can really learn about all the countries. Now that it's been more than eight years since I graduated, I always call the past students of every country that I visit. And we always meet, whether it's [in] Mexico, Europe, or other countries. And during that experience you get to learn so much about other cultures and the way they're living, it's like travelling the world, essentially. So I would say that's the number one differentiator of Braemar College.”
  • “I didn't think it could happen [for me to become president of the student union], but then I decided to try because that's what [my] personality said, “okay, I'll try anyway.” And since then we did get elected, I would say, because all other candidates were just doing the boring speeches and we made a very nice speech and we decided to dance instead in that election. And so that's why my number one advice is to believe in yourself in a way and to try different things without even [having] the idea of winning or doing because it might actually work.”
  • “There were some [LGBTQ] students when we were studying back in 2012, sincerely, we didn't see any difference between non-straight students versus straight ones. I mean, there was no labelling, just treated everybody the same. We weren't really even interested in that topic. The students were studying together, we had fun all together and we were friends. So there's not even an identification by this. So I definitely think Braemar is very diverse, students come from different countries and different cultures. I think everything is accepted at Braemar and you're never labelled in any way.”
  • “I wouldn't say my favourite English teacher was light on students; he definitely pushed you to do your best. But I'm really grateful to him for all that knowledge and controversial subjects that we discussed in his classes. I remember we were watching more adult-subject movies that I think brought different perspectives.”
  • “I’d say 100% [Braemar did prepare me well for the university] because everybody keeps saying the university would be more tough than Braemer, but I was taking three courses in a semester in my last year [just like in the university]. I believe the school principal at that time didn't recommend me to take three subjects, but they said that it may prepare me better for university, [and] when I entered university I felt like I was even over-prepared. ... Even though I was not from Canada and did not have the best English skills and was from a different culture, I would still say that Braemar got me really prepared for university, for my Bachelor's degree and my Master's degree and for the life after.”

Maksym — alum

Maksym graduated from Braemar in 2012. He pursued his degree in the University of Toronto Department of Applied Science and Engineering in the faculty of Chemical Engineering, and today he is working as a chemical engineer in the GTA. His younger sister is also currently enrolled in Braemar College. Maksym mostly appreciated the diversity, and family-like and encouraging environment at his school. He also claims that Braemar prepared him well for the future as he was able to build his own schedule required by the university.

  • “One of the things that I appreciated the most was the ability to select your own curriculum and to pick the courses that suit your needs and that are required by your university. And nobody would ever load you with the extra stuff that you do not really require. Second thing that I really appreciated was the diversity. There was a broad range of cultures represented in the school and it was a really fun and very friendly environment.” 
  • “So just looking back to the school, I would say the ability to build my own schedule really helped me in the university, especially in the later years when you had to pick your electives [that] were 90% of your term, and as well as the diversity … .”
  • “I moved to many schools throughout my school education because I traveled a lot with my parents, [and] the most unique thing about Braemar was the unique approach to each student. So as far as I can remember, there were times when you would sit with the principal and discuss your plans for the future and you would select your course load accordingly. And you would be guided with different recommendations and supported at each step. And each separate teacher would also accommodate [according] to your unique requirements.”
  • “It's a very nice school, so talk to people, enjoy it. It's a very good and open environment.”
  • “My math teacher … would go to great extent, if you were willing to, he would stay overtime and dig deeper into the math problems with you. He would send students to mathematical competitions and Eva would do the same with physics. Then, David, of course, the English teacher was an excellent person. Talking to him was so much fun. Virginia was an excellent teacher, she was the best at finding a unique approach to each student. So, yeah, those are the four teachers that were my favorite, but I think every teacher in Braemar is quite unique and has a good skill set to be a teacher.”
  • “I think Braemar is a great place because as I remember just now, all my friends were all very opinionated people with very different opinions. And that was the critical part of fun, to discuss those opinions together and share ideas. Everybody was different, but we all worked together in the same school and we shared our ideas. We discussed it after school and in school. … We didn't have clubs, but we didn't need them because we were just organized in our own leisure time.”
  • “There is an increased encouragement to participate during the course. So the teacher would ask questions, and there is also a participation component of the mark in each course which develops the need to participate rather than just consume. I think my sister is also very brilliant, she's very good at consuming knowledge, but sometimes she's just shy to express her ideas and knowledge. And I think those minor mandatory steps in the process of evaluating your academic performance are very prone to develop your expressions. I know that's still in place, but in the physics, chemistry, and math courses we would have to have a specific topic and develop our own idea on that and then present it to the whole class. So those mandatory things are very good for developing a habit of expressing knowledge.”
  • “In the university right now you're studying together with a lot of international students who have different levels of preparation. And I would say that we were very well prepared up to the end of the first year, like there were no topics in the first year that would be too challenging to acquire. And that's especially important when you have students coming in from India, China, [or] European countries where they have their own standards for the high school students. So I would say Braemar was very good at this and you felt competitive with other students coming from abroad as well as the local students.”

Sasha — student

Sasha is currently in Grade 11 at Braemar College, and she enrolled in the fall of 2018. He is an editor in chief of the school newspaper, as well as a member of the student union and the Youth Wellness Network at the school. She appreciated the rewarding personal responsibility, determination, and diverse nature of Braemar. Sasha likes that teachers at Braemar are extremely tolerant and passionate to understand the students.

  • “My experience so far and my general idea of the school is that it's a non-competitive, yet intense education environment that is rewarding personal responsibility and the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively with other students, teachers, staff, and the like.”
  • “The student environment at Braemar and the general idea of school seems to have a sense of determination and never stopping at your academic goals.” 
  • “The environment among students and your fellow peers is seemingly eccentric due to the melting pot of cultures that are present at Braemar. And this makes for a very interesting and spontaneous student culture.” 
  • “You don't really see kids bragging about their marks or you don't see the staff bragging about the school either. They just know in their hearts that it's a generally good school.”
  • “While there is always guidance available at Braemar, a lot of what the students do is on them and only them. They try to make the students more involved in their classes and make students more independent rather than having to be dependent on a teacher. So I think the school's main value is personal responsibility and also respecting others, which needs to come with a melting pot school like Braemar, I think.”
  • “My advice [for students entering Braemar] is probably two things. One, you should understand that the courses are going to go by fast, considering each term is only about two and a half months. You need to stay on top of your coursework. That being said, though, don't be afraid to go out there and meet new students because plenty of them are just as nervous as a first timer might be, and they're totally willing to talk to you and make an effort and become friends. So I think if I had to give some advice, it would be to be prepared that the courses will go by quickly and you need to stay on top of that, and also to just be confident and get involved with your peers because they probably want to have some friends too.”
  • “Most teachers are extremely tolerating of students and they try to accommodate them the best they can. And I think, [you] would still do very well at Braemar, even if [you are] more of a consumer of knowledge than a producer of knowledge. And even if [some students] can be controversial, sometimes fresh opinions or something that could be discussed as a class is very welcomed and the social environment would still be pretty good. As I've met my friends at Braemar, some of them have wildly different opinions from each other, some of them are very controversial, [and others] are pretty central.”
  • “So, concerning LGBTQ+ students, I do have friends who are part of the LGBTQ community and they are normally just welcomed. There's not really any issues per se with the social cohesion going on between LGBTQ students and those who are not part of that demographic. There isn't necessarily a large population of LGBTQ students at Braemar though, however, I can't think of an incident of bullying or isolation or anything like that because of them being part of that demographic. So, I honestly think that Braemar is very welcoming, even if they are from the other side of the world and might be viewed completely differently they are still open to the LGBTQ community.”
  • “I'd say the majority of my friends I actually met at Braemar, I only really have one friend outside of Braemar that's my best friend. I made friends from Ukraine, Russia, and Mexico. And we do have social interactions and hangout with those people outside Braemar. So I'd say that socially, despite the fact these are international students, it is pretty much typical of the ordinary high school. In fact, it's even better in a way. It's fantastic to be friends with people from all around the world and I think that it's enriched my life.”
  • “Some of my favourite teachers were simply passionate to understand the students and teach them accordingly. And most of them are also extremely knowledgeable. I haven't met one yet that was just specialized in one subject and was completely clueless about the other. In fact, I actually think that most of them are extremely passionate and I think that is my favorite quality in those teachers.”

Bill Kidman — current parent

Bill’s son, Liam, graduated from Braemar College. Bill enjoyed Braemar’s flexible semester system and he says that the school gave his son lots of confidence for university. He describes Braemar as consistent and good with feedback.

  • “For Liam, this school came as the right choice at the right time and it really gave him the footing and confidence. I guess if I have to put it in one word [of what was the biggest impact the school has had on my child], it would be the academic confidence to go off to university. I think he felt very prepared from his time at Braemar. All kids have big question marks, but I think he felt very confident from his time there.”
  • “I would say, if there was a person out there that's very consistent, that would be the person that Braemar represented because my experience with all the different staff at Braemar was very consistent. I was very impressed that everybody seems to sing-off the same song sheet there. It's not like sometimes you go to a place where there are policies, but nobody really follows them. I found all my dealings with the staff were very consistent. Everybody has the same plan and the same priorities in mind.”
  • “I would say Liam is very morally and ethically driven. And he didn't report any problems there at the school in those regards.”
  • “Because of the semester system there's a lot of chances to learn and then actually re-apply again in the next semester. So there's four semesters in the first year [and] you get a lot more faster feedback. And I know from watching Liam's first written assignments, there's just absolutely no comparison in terms of the quality of the work that he was turning in. He's got a thirst for knowledge, but his writing was not there really even at the start of the year as it was at the end of the year. There's a complete difference with what he was turning in. And, you know, by the end of the year he'd essentially built a whole business practice around what's being asked for. So, he really wrapped a bit of a business approach around his education and really did change a lot within one year.”

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Alum, Frank Nguyen (2020)

My experience at Braemar College was terrific, it was filled with a lot joy and education purposes. What stood out for me at Braemar was the community that the school was able to build, even after my ...


Alum, Erika Gilmandinova (2020)

This school changed my perspective of the world forever. I became so open-minded that I never looked at things the same way. It's been almost 10 years since I graduated, but Braemar still has special ...


Alum, Kevin Varghese (2020)

My experience at Braemar was truly wonderful. Being an international school situated in the heart of Toronto, I was able to grasp and engage with people from around the world. The teachers are helpful...

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