A major Toronto newspaper published a disturbing article about how poorly students from the double cohort and subsequent groups were doing in their university courses. We immediately sent out an email to our graduates and asked them if this were true for them. Their replies are now flooding in, but here are the first we have received.
My first year went by like a breeze, and I have only TOPS to thank for that. Not only was most of the content a review, but the preparation TOPS has given me for stressful workloads and independent learning has been invaluable, regardless of what courses I’m taking. After four years of university, I still look back at TOPS and am amazed not only at how much it has helped me, but also how fondly I remember those four years of high school.
– Jordan Ho
Five years down the road, I can still say that the most intelligent, hardworking, and successful group of people I know is my TOPS class of 2013. It really is something special, and if you get the chance to go, I highly recommend you take it.
– Soheil Koushan
The beauty of TOPS is being challenged every day in every way surrounded by a like-minded cohort of students who, after four years of craziness, become your family. TOPS constantly throws you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to grow in ways you probably never expected, ways that prepare you for whatever it is you aspire to do as you leap into adulthood. The learning, experiences, and friendships – the TOPS Program is more than just a high school.
– Jean Wu
I know people come to the TOPS program because of its academic excellence, but I took two main things away from this program and it wasn’t the advanced curriculum. First, the people. My best friends are still those I met in TOPS and there was a sense of community and collaboration I have yet to find. Another is the work ethic, I may not need the advanced calculus in my life right now, but I do use the study skills and hard work I learned then in university. I saw a huge difference in the amount of commitments I was able to handle compared to other students.
– Rini Ilangomaran
TOPS has prepared me very well for undergrad and beyond. Almost the entire first year of calculus was review, as was physical chemistry and all of physics. It also taught me critical thinking skills that were instrumental to a minor in English and social research. I am now entering a career in Medicine and TOPS was instrumental in helping me succeed throughout an academic career.
– Jonathan Ding
Taking the leap to attend TOPS is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I went from being bored in middle school to being challenged and having fun in class. I made tons of great memories, like setting off rockets in the Don Valley, hiking and impromptu dance parties in Algonquin Park, wandering around Stratford in a large, well-dressed mob… I could go on and on and on. My classmates were amazing and many of us are still close friends. These days my career is off to a great start at Google, something I never would have imagined in middle school but which seems perfectly normal after TOPS!
– Leila Chan Currie
Within our family-like support system, I learned that I can do anything. Being surrounded by exceptional teachers and peers gave me licence to push myself further than I had ever imagined through the incredible learning opportunities that TOPS offers. Despite being faced with challenging situations, I have never felt ill-equipped or alone.
Perhaps equally importantly, I learned that quoting Sir Isaac Newton in all of my applications is a sure way to get an interview! Still standing on the shoulders of giants, I am finishing my last year of medical school, off to pursue goals of learning wilderness medicine in Newfoundland!
– Rebecca Chang
When I graduated from TOPS I felt confident that I would succeed in university. At the end of my first term, I have yet to meet another student with the same knowledge base that TOPS provided.
– Taylor Martin
Even though I abandoned the cause and went into an arts program, TOPS has given me a huge advantage. Being in the program made me develop, study, research, and writing skills that I didn’t have before, and that I wouldn’t have now if I had been in a regular program. And to their eternal shame, I, an artsy, can even help the engineers and science majors work through their physics homework!
– James Gotowiec
All of the TOPS graduates I’ve contacted this year are substantially more prepared for university than the majority of our peers – OAC and Grade 12 alike.
– Steve Benton
I feel that the amount of work I did in TOPS has definitely prepared me for the workload at university. I was also prepared content wise, which, as it has turned out, is much less important. As long as you know how to work, it doesn’t really matter what type of work you need to do.
– Delia Jacobson
Entering university requires a lot of adjustment to so many things, in so many ways. Academically, the adjustment is virtually absent. The study habits I had developed in high school were truly put to the test this semester, and they pulled me through just fine. It helped that we were over-prepared for this first semester of Calculus, allowing me to focus on my other subjects and continue adjusting to the rest of my new environment … And every word is true!
– Vithika Siva
First semester calculus (and part of second) and chemistry have been a review, as well as both semesters’ physics courses. I go to calculus class for entertainment. I solve the problems for the entire class in the first ten minutes before the professor gets to them.
– Jeff Colden
I found that content-wise, especially in calculus and chemistry, the material has been mainly review. I’d also like to mention that in my film studies course, my TA told me I have excellent writing skills compared to many students in her class.
– Linsey Eng
The TOPS teachers always told us that we would have nothing to worry about when it came to getting into and doing well at our university of choice. I was skeptical, and I didn’t realize until starting my first classes at McGill that TOPS gives students the opportunity to stand out from the thousands of other students in first year. I was expecting to be overwhelmed by the amount of work. Instead, my marks have remained high and the material is mostly review. TOPS not only gave me a strong foundation in math science, and English, but it also gave me more than any other high school could. What I liked most about TOPS was the dedication and enthusiasm of all the staff in the program. It was in this environment that I was able to learn everything I needed to make my first year of university a fun and stress-free experience.
– Welland Sin
TOPS has helped me a lot. I find that I am 15 to 20 percent above the mean in all my courses and I am able to grasp all the concepts presented in class with very little effort.
– Vinayak Viswanathan
The only thing I felt I wasn’t prepared for is sitting in a class with 1200 other people under one round dome (not to mention those hard chairs that give leg aches).
– T.J. Ye
There is no doubt in my mind that the material and subject matter I learned in all my courses in high school has sufficiently prepared me for my post-secondary education. Not only am I prepared for this year but some of the material I learned from high school, predominantly from TOPS, will not be covered until upper year university courses.
– David Kodoma
TOPS was a truly rewarding experience. Being a university student, I now come to appreciate all the opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. The English, biology, chemistry and calculus that I took in the TOPS program gave me an essential foundation that allows me to be a step ahead of all my university peers.
– Anisa Shivji