Merrickville, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
As an international student first arriving to Ontario, the school helped me a lot in overcoming the culture shock that comes with being a foreigner. Due to the fact that the students in the school are mainly international, you truly live the experience of meeting people all around the world. Getting to know the staff and the students and to feel comfortable with them is a must for the school, and they achieve this by having school activities throughout the school year. Out-of-school life is pretty good as well, the facility is perfectly suited for all students, the dining area is big enough for everyone, the Wi-Fi works well, the school counts with recreation areas such as a basketball court, a gym, ping pong table, etc. So you won't get bored that easily. Overall, the school exceeds in ensuring a top academic level and great social life. It is worth mentioning that for the school, responsibility is important, so, the student has to be responsible for their times, the rules and overall for their life throughout the school year.
The school leaders, really show professionalism, they are people who have great experience when it comes to manage an international school and deal with many of the situations that come with having so many nationalities interacting all at once. In my personal experience, I respect them as they respect me and all my classmates. They are really supportive with issues inside and out of the school. Also, by having staff that is mostly Canadian, it means that they give you a true sense of their customs and culture. Overall, they are exceptional, they are excellent at their job and are overqualified for it.
The school has a positive reputation of helping students get into their desired university, and thus, it means that teaching is suited and personalized to each student. This also means that teachers do have great expectations for each student, they try to help you achieve your personal goals by encouraging you to go "above and beyond" and to be consistent with your work. Even though they expect so much from you, they also understand that you have a personal life and thus, don't oversaturate you with work. Every professor is different and as a result, teaches differently in their class, but they truly show their teaching skills and their support for every student despite their cultural differences. Overall, teaching is top class and the teachers are really qualified to do their job as successful as a student wants to be.
Because most students come from different parts of the world, they mostly are used to other school systems and methods. However, the school does a great job in having a standardized system for all students and still follow the Ontario school curriculum in order. It is worth mentioning that because the school has a great academic level, and its main goal is to help you get accepted to top-ranked universities, the workload is heavy. This does have an advantage, as students learn to become responsible and organized with their work so that it doesn't feel too hard. Classes are top-level with teachers expert in their subjects. And thus, learning is effective. For seniors, academics is somewhat different than other years, classes are more centered to your interest for university, this is so that you are prepared the following year for your career. Overall, academics are just right if you are organized and responsible for your work.
Extracurriculars are obligatory in the school, you have 2 different for a certain period of time every week, they are free to choose from a list. Or the school allows for suggestions, so if more people want to do a different one they can do it. The clubs and activities range from arts, sports, social, or academic. All depending on the number of students that sign to it. The way they manage extracurriculars is good, as students can interact with other peers from other grades with the same interests, and the constant rotation helps people choose and try new things.
As an international student myself, the fact that you are interacting with many different cultures than your own is scary at first. But as time goes by you learn to live with these cultures and they learn to live with yours. It is really fun and enjoying living with so many people that are your age and that are so different from the people you typically know. Having a roommate also helps to get to know your peers, and always feel supported. It is worth noting that there are cultural barriers between you and the other students. But respect is a value that is endorsed at all times and this makes living inside the school calm and harmonic. Also, there are instances that people with the same nationality or interest are together, but nevertheless, you always feel welcome with them. Students that are the only ones with some nationality may feel somewhat alone as they don't have a peer that has the same culture as their own, but this rarely happens.
School life is really good because everyone has classes at the same time, most people are busy studying in the morning and evening. The classrooms are greatly equipped with the supplies needed to have the class and the school counts with projectors and whiteboards to make the class more dynamic. As students have to wear uniforms, people feel united and more connected despite their nationalities and cultures. School life is also suited for different cultures and religions, so if a Muslim has to go and pray, they will be able to do it without interrupting the class. Also, in the school day, if there are certain celebrations for some people, they will be able to do them and can tell the other students about it and learn from his culture.
Culture shock from national and international students is really common in the school, by interacting with people from a totally different culture as your own. It is bound to happen, nevertheless as time goes by and you get to know everyone it slowly starts to feel like your home, and people around you feel the same way. Inclusion is really important for the school and this ensures that people don't feel alone or alienated. For me, it took a month to get used to the school, my room and overall life there. But as soon as I felt like home, the experience changed greatly for me, and I got to enjoy my stay in the school. Overall, the community in Merrick Prep is like a family. People help and support each other and life inside is really comforting and safe.
The way you see the location of the school depends on where you are from. For me, because I come from a really big and busy city. The first months felt weird living in a small town such as Merrickville. Nevertheless, as time went by I got used to it. Most of the students will stay on campus throughout the day, but others will go to the town for a coffee or to the ice rink in the evenings. Also, the school counts with vans that throughout the week can take you to other towns or even the city.
The application process was done in a rather quick manner for me. I first got to know the school at an expo and from there. I began the process. The actual application for the school was effective. I had to show them my school transcripts and did some English and math exams, as well as an interview with the headmaster and some of the processors. I would say that it does depend on where you come from, as the complicated part for me was getting my student visa. I would suggest checking your application for the visa in your country first and estimate the time that will take the student to get it. And then begin applying to the school. If the interested has good grades and a good English level, there won't be a problem getting into the school.