Options News

Founder’s Feature – March 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.

I try to bake every week for Team Options. This includes everything from muffins, granola, bars, to cookies (which are always the favourite). I find a lot of baking inspiration from the Broma Bakery website. These Cinnamon Roll Blondies were a hit, and the Salted Caramel Scotcheroos are a favourite when I serve a dessert platter of mixed goodies when entertaining.

March Featured Book: Migrations: A Novel

Due to a recent injury that restricts activity, I have been reading a lot lately. More than a book a week. This was my favourite February read. It is set in the future when most species of animals are extinct. It follows one woman as she traces what is thought to be the last migration of the Artic tern. It is heartbreaking to read. I thought deeply about my interactions with nature. I can’t imagine not hearing birds on my morning walk or swimming in an ocean with no whales. Franny Stone, the main character, stayed with me long after I finished the novel. I had so many questions to ask her. I highly recommend it for all book clubs. Thanks to ES for recommending it!

March Featured YouTube Video

UBC Medical School students created these spoof music videos, and they are pretty stinking cute.  There are three mini-videos about preparing for medical school, the admissions perspective of admitting students, and actually being in medical school. My favourite scenes are from the snippet that uses Taylor’s Swift’s “Antihero” and changes it to say “It’s me, HI, tryna to get an MD.” Enjoy this good giggle.

March Featured Website

I am a fan of The Conversation website and its tagline: Academic rigour, journalistic flair. Its Canadian-focused education section often makes me think more deeply about school-related issues. I appreciated its recent articles on French immersion and inequity and video gaming and classroom learning. I really enjoyed this article about the purpose of higher education in Canada and how it is affected by funding models. It explores a classic debate surrounding what university’s purpose is: serving the labour market or purely providing students with an opportunity for higher learning.

March Featured Podcast and Common App Essays

I am excited for a new season of NACAC’s College Admission Decoded. The podcast is hosted by Eddie Pickett, a senior associate dean of admissions and director of recruitment at Pomona College. The second episode “Why Gratitude Matters in the College Application Process” was excellent. It explores Penn’s new gratitude essay with Whitney Soule, vice provost and dean of admission. I enjoyed learning that two of my favourite Penn professors, Angela Duckworth and Adam Grant, collaborated on the question. It also discusses the new Common Application gratitude essay question that was introduced this year. It was interesting to hear how in the span of one year, both institutions found value in prompting students to reflect deeply on gratitude.

On March 2nd, Common App also confirmed the essay questions will remain the same for the 23-24 admissions cycle. Woo hoo!

March Featured Report

There are major changes coming to the UCAS application, which is used to apply to UK universities. This report includes the scope of the changes and their intentions. Starting in the fall of 2025, the UCAS personal statement will likely be in a new format. Instead of one statement, it will be broken into sub-questions that are more focused and equitable for all applicants. You can also learn more about these changes here.

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

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