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University Information Night 2020: Key Highlights

The Student Affairs Department at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) recently hosted its first virtual University Information Night. An annual event, this particular edition pivoted from a traditionally in-person to an online format, while featuring a keynote speaker and talks on specific themes from each of the four high school Guidance Counsellors.

Moderated by John Connelly, Director of Student Affairs, the event began with an address from Dr. Barry Craig, PhD, who is in his fourth year as President of Huron University College — the founding institution of Western University.

A life-long educator, Dr. Craig is also a father of three children, has taught and lectured in North and South America, Europe, and Asia and has held several positions as a post-secondary administrator.

Below are highlights from Dr. Craig’s address during University Information Night 2020:

SMCS University Information Night 2020
Dr. Barry Craig, PhD, President of Huron University College at Western University participates in St. Michael’s College School’s University Information Night 2020.

Why should I think about studying Liberal Arts?

“The purpose of a Liberal Arts education is not to prepare you for any one skill or one job. It’s to prepare you for anything, prepare you to be adaptable. I liken it to the difference between learning how to use a single tool which is the form of some post-secondary training or learning how to use every tool in the toolbox, because you never know when you’re going to need a wrench, a screwdriver, a hammer or what have you. A Liberal Arts education teaches you to read, and write, communicate orally, work in teams, be creative, think across disciplines.”

Why a small school?

“Here’s one thing I know from all of that experience, 18-year-olds, 19, 20-year-olds, tend to flourish when they live in a community where they are recognized as an individual and where they aren’t lost.

For your first degree, you should go to a place where you’ll be able to know your professor, where your professor will know you, and where you’ll make friends and know the students who are in your classes because you see them all the time. That gives you the foundation you need. After that, go to the largest most famous research university that you can get into or that you want to pursue. But having that sense of community being recognized as an individual at the outset of your education is invaluable.”

What will the jobs of the future look like?

In providing his answer, Dr. Craig referenced a 2018 report by RBC entitled, “Humans Wanted.”

“The one thing they said we can be sure of is that the skills that will be in demand 10, 20, 30 years from now are human skills. So, think about that for a minute. What are the things that we can do as human beings that can’t be replaced so easily by a machine? And those are things that require empathy, insight, creativity, the ability to work with other people, diverse forms of communication. Those are all the things you learn in a Liberal Arts education. There is a reason why the single most common undergraduate education amongst fortune 500 CEOs is a BA, because it does prepare you to be versatile, to understand the broad view, to see things in context and to be able to put any other knowledge you have to work in a way that’s most effective when you’re working with human beings.”

SMCS University Information Night 2020
The St. Michael’s College School team of high school guidance counsellors participate in SMCS University Information Night 2020.

Below are some of the takeaways from the SMCS guidance counsellors who participated in the event.

GAIL O’GRADY, Guidance Counsellor, Senior grades

Virtual format:

“By having the University Information Night presented this year via zoom, it allowed the student and parents/guardians to participate. In past years, it was typically one or both parents that attended this event at the school and sometimes the student would accompany them. With this 2020 version, the whole family could participate and experience this event together.”

Takeaway for parents:

“Their son is supported and guided through the university/college application process by guidance counsellors and teachers at St. Mike’s. Their son will be doing the research in order to make the final decision on where they want to study. It is all about ’best fit’ for them.”

Takeaway for students:

“The student is supported by their parents, guidance counsellors, teachers, and alumni. We are always available to guide them through the application process, right through to the last step of accepting their offer at a university!

It is the student that must take ownership of the application process, do the research, make note of deadlines for applications, supplementary materials and scholarships. Ultimately they need to make the final decision as to the best fit.”

SMCS University Information Night 2020

JOHN CONNELLY, Director of Student Affairs

Top highlights:

“I quite enjoyed Dr. Barry Craig’s talk; his passion for the work of undergraduate teaching and student engagement really resonated with me. Parents submitted some very interesting and thoughtful questions; these gave me considerable insight into what parents are thinking and feeling about university admissions. Finally, I was struck, yet again, by the sheer volume and range of experience our counsellors bring to the table.”

Takeaway for parents:

“I hope parents will use what they learned in the session to engage their sons in conversation about university admissions. In a time of uncertainty, I hope they nevertheless realize the process need not be overwhelming or a source of undue anxiety.”

Takeaway for students:

“I hope students realize they have a range of options. I also hope they will take seriously our encouragement to connect with their guidance counsellors regularly.”

SMCS University Information Night 2020

ENZO CARCASOLE, Guidance Counsellor, Senior grades

Takeaways for parents and students:

“The night served as a catalyst for more discussion with the counsellor.

The path to university (Grade 12) is a fun journey that doesn’t have to be super-stressful, and that they need to find their optimal fit!”

Key highlight:

“I think the event served to underscore that our department, and St. Michael’s in general, has a strong ability to adapt, adjust, pivot, and serve the needs of our clients as we always do!”

SMCS University Information Night 2020

KEVIN SHAUGHNESSY ’00, Guidance Counsellor, Senior grades

Key highlight:

“What struck me most about the 2020 version of the University Information Night was the amount of participants who enrolled and participated in viewing the talks. The guidance team has clearly established a significant amount of respect for their expertise over the years, as indicated by the high viewer turnout.

I learned that I work with an extremely impressive team in Guidance. They all care deeply about the best interests of their students, and have a significant amount of experience and expertise to offer. I consider myself very fortunate to be part of this team.”

Takeaway for parents:

“I hope parents take away an understanding that the application process is one that should be filled with ongoing, deep, meaningful, and fruitful discussions with their sons about what they want to study, where they want to study, and why.”

Takeaway for students:

“I hope students take away a sense that they are supported by their parents and guidance counsellors alike. I also hope they seriously reflect on selecting the best fit for themselves, personally, when deciding where and what to study.”

NORAH HIGGINS BURNHAM, Guidance Counsellor, Senior grades

Top highlight:

“What struck me most about the 2020 version of the University Information Night was the number of questions that were posted prior to the event. This helped to streamline our talks and address concerns that had clearly been discussed over family dinner tables in recent weeks.”

Takeaway for parents:

“I hope parents see that their sons are in good hands with the guidance team. We are committed and truly love what we do. We feel honoured to be part of this exciting journey of post-secondary education discovery.”

Takeaway for students:

“I hope students realize that we all want them to choose a pathway, programme and institution that is the right fit for them.”

Learn more about the Student Affairs Department.

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