University Counselling Update

Tuesday, February 05, 2013 - By: Mr. Rick Rodrigues, Director, University Counselling

Mr. Rick Rodrigues, Director, University Counselling addressing the school at assembly

I have been asked to give an update on the status of the post-secondary planning of our graduating class, and I am happy to do so. You should know, however, that I am not here to simply read off a list of the set of university acceptances that the Grade 12s have received, and there are many. Instead, I am here to give you a taste of what came to mind when Mr. Patel asked me to speak: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of university counselling…

First the Ugly.

Why start with the Ugly? Well, thankfully, because there’s so little of it… but just enough that I would rather get it out of the way now. I want to tell you about one Ugly experience because I want it to serve as a cautionary tale to all, because all of you will, at some point very soon in your lives, come up against an immoveable deadline.

It was October 15th, the deadline for submitting applications to the UK for medical and dental schools, as well as applications to the University of Oxford. We had several students doing these applications, and most of them had completed the work with time to spare, and all that was required was my final review and recommendation. At the time I was traveling on behalf of the school in Switzerland, and my plan was to spend the evening in my hotel room after the day’s work polishing the last of the recommendations and sending the applications on, all before the midnight deadline.

All went according to plan, except for one application that was not complete. With technology as it is, it was very easy for me to connect and see precisely what was missing and what needed to be done; however, the 8500 km of distance between me and the school made it challenging to locate the student in question and get things done! What ensued was an absolutely frenzy of emails between me and Mrs. Coull and the student, corrections to the application, a reloading of an edited personal statement… it was a disaster in the making, averted at literally the last minute.

The application was officially submitted…with 53 seconds to go.
That is a record in Brentwood’s history to be sure, but not one that any one of you should EVER aspire to.

Now to the ‘Bad’ – yes, so far there has been some Bad news received by the Grade 12s, and there will be more, but that is inevitable when they reach for lofty goals. Bad news is tough to take, but what is important is that, despite the possibility of bad news, the students are willing to take the risk and apply, and do a tremendous amount of work to put themselves out there and in the running. I have been and continue to be so immensely impressed with the work of our seniors, and with their resilience even when that hard work does not translate into that sought after acceptance.

Now to the ‘Good’ – the Good could simply be the list of acceptances the Grade 12s have already received… because it is very good… and if you really want to see it, you can go the Brentwood website to see what has been accumulated so far – it is very impressive! But I think there is even more Good in the incredible variety of what these seniors will be doing once they have graduated from Brentwood. From two of our female rowers who have accepted athletic scholarships at Syracuse University in New York state and the University of Indiana, respectively, as recruited student-athletes, to two of our very talented visual artists who both received on-the-spot offers of admission to Fine Arts programs at the University of the Arts London based on the quality of the review of their portfolios here at the school, to one of our very multi-talented students who received an Early Decision acceptance to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to study at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music to complete professional business and artistic training toward a Bachelor of Fine Art, a program that is a one of a kind in the world. And that is just a taste of some of the fascinating things our seniors are looking to do once they have left these shores!

Another considerable ‘Good’ is the impressive quality of the writing that our senior students do for some of their applications, and I am humbled, often, to be able to read incredible reflections on their experiences – from one student’s challenges in coping with being bullied at her old school, to another’s powerful experiences in being witness to the devastation of a major earthquake on the people in region of her home country, to the amazing opportunities that another student has in volunteering at a hospital in India and actually assisting in numerous surgical procedures.

What you Grade 12s bring to the table – your academic skills, your experiences, your community involvement, your leadership – it is all a tremendous good, and we are all proud of all of your achievements, many of which are still to come!

For details of this year's acceptances to date, please see

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