Making your summer productive: Shad Valley

Camping at Georgian Bay during the Shad Waterloo program.

Summer is a time when we all get to relax. Some of us go travelling, some do summer school and some simply spend time home. Last summer, I decided to do something different that would not only help me in my academic life, but also be a lot of fun. A number of my friends in senior grades had been telling me about the Shad Valley program, and encouraging me to apply.

Shad Valley is a one month long summer enrichment program for Canadian high school students who are passionate and keen to learn new things. During the month, you will live at one of the ten beautiful university campuses in Canada and learn about things you could never imagine. I would not hesitate to say that this has been my best learning experience so far and I have made some of my best friends through the program.

Contrary to common perception, Shad Valley is not a nerd camp in any way. In fact, I met some of the most brilliant and interesting people I have ever know here. You also do not have to be a math and science nerd. The lectures and workshops are on a variety of subjects and it is a lot of fun with all the recreation and travel facilities.

I am at fault for posting this blog a bit late but applications are to be postmarked by Jan 18. I encourage each and every one of you to apply for this program because of the many benefits it gives you. Here is a list of how Shad Valley will help you:

  • It is a great learning experience. Things that you will learn there are very practical and you will be able to use them in your everyday life and studies.
  • You will get to do some amazing research with some of the best technology in the world. I had the chance to see the world’s most advanced quantum computer at the University of Waterloo.
  • If you are in the IB program, this program is perfect for getting you all three components: creativity, action and service. In fact, I had great help even figuring out my Extended Essay topic.
  • Shad Valley is almost a brand name. When you apply for universities in Grade 12 (or beyond), Shad Valley is looked upon in a positive way and will bump up your chances of getting scholarships or getting into the university that you want to. In fact, I was told that even MIT considers Shad Valley to be a very positive factor in your application.
  • There are some universities that offer big scholarships that are only available to Shad alumni.
  • While you write your application, it is a great chance to reflect upon your experiences so far and it is great experience for writing university applications which are also very similar.
Camping at Georgian Bay during the Shad Waterloo program.

The selection process is very competitive so be sure to start early and put thought into it. I do realize that the program cost of about $3,850 might be a bit expensive for a lot of people but this is only a very small fraction of the actual cost which sponsors are happy to cover for you. In addition, need and merit based scholarships are both available to students.

If you need any help writing your application or a personal perspective on the Shad experience, feel free to contact me at or visit for more information!

Here is a video about the Shad experience to help you make your decision.

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  • Shad Valley was the best summer of my life. Something about having a dorm-room nerf gun war at 4 AM the morning before a presentation in front of 500 people is just… indescribable.

  • When are you notified about receiving a merit-based scholarship? Is it after you’ve confirmed attendance, or before that?

  • How do determine which campuses are the best to go to? I really want one that has a lot of biotechnology and genetics.

  • I have been put on the waiting list and wonder if I will get in. What are my chances? when will I find out?

    • I was on the waiting list a few years ago and got in, so did a few other people I know. You still have a pretty good chance in my opinion.

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