Options News

Founder’s Feature – September 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 am so excited that the 23-24 school year is Options 20th Anniversary, and my personal 30th year in education. WOO HOO!! We will be running some exciting features, including my favourite, Options Alumni: Where are they now?. We will highlight 20 students from the past 20 years and what they have gone on to accomplish. Some will be more recent, and some will be from the very beginning, but ALL will have a unique Options story to share. This series will begin September 20th.

Knowing that the fall is very, very busy, we will be delaying most of our celebrations until after February, but this spring, please watch for some exciting content and featured events. We are so excited to celebrate with everyone who has been a part of Options’ history, legacy, and story.

Melinda’s September Reading Recommendations:

This photo is from my mid-summer stack and is a combination of library books, borrowed books, and odd airport purchases. It is a good representation of what my nightstand looks like most evenings.


Of all the books I read this summer, my two favourites were Horse: A Novelby Geraldine Brooks, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrowby Gabrielle Zevin. Both books transported me to worlds I knew nothing about: horse racing in the mid-1800’s, video game creation in the 1990’s, the reality of Smithsonian scientists, and a historical context and perspective of the Civil War. Both were written with compelling, compassionate character development that made me feel invested and involved.

Non-Fiction (and a bonus podcast recommendation):

I cannot recommend Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, by James Clear, enough for young adults (and old people like me, too!). It gives simple steps to “get 1% better every day.” It is inspiring, but not preachy. It is smart, but not condescending. It is entertaining, while accessible.

James Clear was a great guest on Adam Grant’s podcast WorkLife. This listen gives an overview of the book and the research that drove it. At Options, we often say, “We celebrate all wins.” So, I particularly liked the section when he discusses small wins adding up to big change.  Especially at the beginning of the school year, I think it is important for students to remember to take it one day at a time and that consistency is the most important element of both change and success.

Melinda’s Featured Blog:

After the STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS, INC. v. PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE and STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS, INC. v. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA ET AL.) court cases were decided in June, I have gotten almost daily emails asking for my thoughts, mostly around how this is expected to affect the 2024 US admission cycle. I wrote a (lengthy) blog highlighting some of the best resources and journalism around the race-based admission decision. I include an essay case study from Brown demonstrating the changes we are seeing in college essay prompts. These decisions have long tentacles as they put into question any preferred admission category. I also highlight the related and evolving legacy admission conversation. You can find the blog here.  

Melinda’s Back to School Must Haves:

As many of you know, I am very picky about my school supplies. My husband claims I am the only 50-something woman who still carries a pencil kit. (I use this one!)

Here are some of my favourite back-to-school necessities:

1. I only use Ticonderoga pencils. They are my favourite. This pencil sharpener is also my favourite. It’s battery operated and always in my work bag.

2. I originally bought these highlighters in the London airport and was excited to find them in North American, too. They are perfect for a little colour and never bleed through the paper.

3. I miss my long ago days of teaching AP English Lang and Lit and AP US Government and grading papers. I only edit digitally, mainly on Google docs, now. But, I have kept these classic felt pens on my desk for 30 years. They are nostalgic and perfect.

4. I only use maruman notebooks. I have both the classic and grid styles, and they come in multiple sizes.

5. Finally, this planner makes an appearance every year. It has been my forever go-to. I customize it with all different colours, symbols and washi tape, and it makes me feel organized, efficient, and on top of things.

Follow our Instagram for Admission Updates:

Did you know that UWaterloo is going to have an early admission cycle this year for engineering programs? Did you know the Ivey School of Business at UWO is adding a video interview portion to their application? Did you know that Western Engineering will be the first engineering program in Canada to use the Casper for admission?

Follow our Instagram page to keep up on all the changes for fall 2024! We got you. @optionssolutions

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

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