Options News

Founder’s Feature – February Edition


Throughout the academic year, Melinda Giampietro, Options Founder/President, will share some of her favourite things in her monthly Founder’s Feature. Melinda loves reading, data, research, and following academic and adolescent news around the world.

February Cookbook of the Month

I did a lot of cooking and baking in January. It is snuggle-in season. I love spending most of my Sunday afternoons making family dinner. One of my favourite friends (thanks, KD!) gave me Alison Roman’s nothing fancy↗ cookbook last summer. In order to make it more personalized, she left sticky notes throughout the book with hints to her favourite recipes or anecdotes of when she made them and how they turned out. It was such a special touch. I dug in this month. My favourites included: Crispy Halloumi with Honey and Pistachio, Wine-Roasted Artichokes (an amazing recipe for a winter night), Slow-Roasted Oregano Chicken with Buttered Tomatoes, Harissa-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with White Beans and Chard, Mushrooms and Herbs, and Sheet Cake with Mascarpone and Coffee.

February Book of the Month

If you had a consulting session at the end of January and noticed I had puffy eyes, this book is the reason. I loved Hello Beautiful↗ by Ann Napolitano; in my mind, it is an instant classic. With both tragedy and triumph, the book takes the reader through the journeys of the Padavano sisters. I liked its sneaky subtlety in encouraging the reader to think about how our relationships frame us and how we are all interconnected.

My two favourite quotes:

“We’re part of the sky, and the rocks in your mother’s garden, and that old man who sleeps by the train station. We’re all interconnected, and when you see that, you see how beautiful life is. Your mother and sisters don’t have that awareness. Not yet, anyway. They believe they’re contained in their bodies, in the biographical facts of their lives.”

“I know it sounds silly, but I’m proud of myself. I guess for living a brave life.”

February Podcast of the Month

I learned some interesting new ideas from The Mel Robbins Podcast↗ episode “The Truth About ADHD in Adults: Harvard’s Dr. Chris Palmer Explains the Research.↗” Dr. Palmer believes that ADHD, as a DSM-5 disorder, is treatable in most instances. I was struck with how Dr. Palmer believes most people can see dramatic improvement in their neurodivergent symptoms using nutrition, exercise, and sleep as a first line of defense to restore the brain’s metabolic and mitochondrial health. The end of the podcast gives practical, immediate tips to help implement these.

February Trip Recap of the Month

My husband and I went to Chicago at the end of January. It was a fantastic winter escape. So much good food! We loved the intimacy of the restaurants there and how many options there are to explore different genres of food. I had the best pistachio birthday croissant. There are also SO MANY universities to visit: Loyola University Chicago, Lake Forest, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. A HUGE thank you to Jaclyn B for the personalized Northwestern tour on an early Sunday morning. I learned so many amazing things; the most surprising is that Northwestern has TWO beaches. We visited one in the cold, winter chill.

Canadian Debate of the Month

WOW! The usually sleepy post-secondary news in Canada is exploding. There are so many debates to discuss in Canadian higher education (We will be exploring university financial states in March). This month, we are focusing on the impact of reducing international student visas. This visual (below) is the easiest and most accurate way to think about the issue, especially as it applies to British Columbia and Ontario. I have seen it shared in almost every article on this topic. The best breakdown I have seen about what this means is Ken Steele’s Eduvation Inc.’s “Our International Implosion” article that explores his eight conclusions, broken down by province. You can find it here↗ (requires a free login) and see the more micro-impacts on individual institutions. This article↗ from University Affairs explores the more macro-impacts of these new policies in terms of policy and reputation. 

February US Debate of the Month

Dartmouth surprised everyone last Monday when it made the announcement to return to mandatory SAT or ACT testing for fall 2025. They based this on their own internal research and investigation.

Read about the Dartmouth decision here↗.

This recent NYTimes article↗ examines the testing debate and explores this summer’s report that demonstrated high school grades don’t correlate with university success, but that SAT/ACT scores do.

Recently, Brown announced its decision to stay test optional. I thought this article↗ in their alumni magazine added another dimension to the debate.

Finally, this is all about to get super messy, as the SAT goes digital worldwide next month (although it has been digital in Canada since March 2023). This is a good summary↗.

To read more Founder’s Features, check them out under the Options News↗ category.

We help you navigate the complex post-secondary selection process in Canada, the United States, the UK and abroad.

We construct progressive action plans for the future, based on each student’s individual strengths, values, and interests.