Setting Yourself Up for Personal Success

An introspective look upon a high school youth and his personal advice for setting yourself up for future success.


Having a good education used to mean a guarantee for a good job, but a close and in-depth look at today’s society says otherwise. We no longer have the guarantee of a good job after finishing up a good program in university simply because the positions are limited, and the welfare of the state is becoming better and better by the today. As a result, opportunities increase, but so does the competition. So, what can you do to maximize you chances? Well, there are a few options and each one of these is the culmination of millions of people’s experiences, henceforth, I present these options in order of importance herein.

  1. Take a specialty program like IB or AP. These programs are academically rigorous and one must be scrupulous to be able to take on such a specialty program like the aforementioned. Taking it will create challenges you’ve never seen before, but at the same time, it provides insight on what most universities will be like. Regular programs in high school are not enough for the student to get used to the workload and learning atmosphere like that of a post-secondary setting. However, a specialty program will put you in the right direction for a university and a career of your dreams.
  2. Participate and immerse yourself in extracurricular activities like but not limited to: social clubs, science organizations, research, and community work. These activities provide a supplemental point of view for the admission officers to use as they judge who gets a spot in a very competitive program or internship. Participate in these activities because you want to and not because you have do. Getting good grades in academics is a must — you have to have good grades, that’s the preliminary factor when universities consider your application. But if everything in you life is all about marks, then what’s the fun of it? So the take away here is this: participate in extracurricular activities not only because university admissions needs them, but also do it for your own well-being and enjoy them — find your own passion and let it take you to the edges of the world.
  3. Enroll yourself into a program outside school that will help you with what you want to do in the future whether it be your career or your undergraduate program. Doing some research and learning about your field of expertise now takes stress off later into the future.

The next two activities are really important and they deserve a separate section.

  1. Start a venture on your own. Through the process of building your own start-up, you learn tremendous amounts of knowledge and gather large amounts of invaluable information. It is life changing and perspective altering to go through the process of building your own startup. Social entrepreneurialism is something everyone needs go through so they can truly understand the value of hard work and that many things in life do not come easy — we should appreciate what we have and continue working towards our goals with the invent, experiment and renew cycle.
  2. Be apart of an organization like Cadets where you are pushed to your absolute limits — or if that’s not challenging enough, enlist in the military reserve. Regardless men or women, high school is a structured place where you are told to do everything. In the real world, there is no structure. Everything is changing constantly. I’ve seen so many people stunned after they graduate from university because the world is nothing like how they imagined it to be. In going through a physically and mentally challenging program like Cadets, it teaches you first and foremost the respect for others, and then later, it challenges you with a very unique approach to problem solving and social interactions that can genuinely prepare you for what’s to come in the future. By going through a program like the two mentioned above, you will be toughened up where you will also learn to be like water — take the shape of surroundings, adapt and change with it. This is something you cannot learn anywhere else and I am telling you from my experience that a program like this will sharpen your edges, tone your ego, and force yourself to adapt to the surrounding environment under stressed, tired, and morally depreciated circumstances. Only under these excruciating circumstances — and I mean it literally — will you really learn a thing or two about true suffering, and only from this suffering will you emerge as a newer and more robust individual ready to take on the world.

When you apply to university, these admission officers look at various things in your application profile from grades to what rigorous courses you’ve taken, to social activities and participation. These all aggregate into an overall portfolio for the officers to look at. As a result, whichever application gives off the most unique impression emerges as a strong applicant for admission. Some programs in university like health sciences at McMaster, Queen’s Commerce, and McGill engineering give off the impression that it’s an impossible program only immortals can get into, but that is not true at all. I know many people who got in these programs and I summed up a couple of things they all have in common.

  1. They all possess an incredibly focused attitude geared towards the goal they set their eyes upon. Each individual who got into one of these programs are outgoing, hardworking and perhaps can even be called the epitome of talent and perseverance. They believe that anything is possible. Like Edison said, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”. These talented students have a vision for themselves, an ambitious one; they are willing to go through all the ups and downs of society and so will you if you want even a slight chance of having a competitive admission application.
  2. Fortitude. Often times, we live in a society where waves turn into tsunamis at almost an instants notice. Thus, during times of hardship, courage and utilizing your own willpower are the two most important tools that can help you emerge as a crowned victor of the violent competitions. Don’t let the people around you affect your foresight and keep moving forward because the moment you stop to look back, you’ve lost momentum and you start to doubt yourself which is the one thing that kill anyone’s confidence.

Going to a good program isn’t hard, it’s just a lot of hard work. Therefore, to conclude, you have to believe in yourself to succeed and success doesn’t come from thin air. Opportunities surrounds us all — we each have the same opportunities, you just have to know where to look — it’s what we choose to do with it and how much effort we put into it that changes who we are innately and fundamentally.


Written by Andy Dai

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