All interested students together with their parents are encouraged to attend one of the two information sessions held in the fall term.  Dates and times for these information sessions will be available at the start of the school year.  Details will be posted on the UTP website and on the Vancouver School District website.  Telephone inquiries can be directed to 604-822-1551 and email inquiries can be directed to the program coordinator, Dr. Shepelev, at lshepelev@vsb.bc.ca.

There are many student-run clubs in Transition. Although each year is unique, there are some clubs that tend to be continuing including: Robotics, Coding, Website, Drama, Writing, Reading, Math, Debate, Band, Gavel, Model United Nations (MUN), and Reach for the Top.  Many students also participate in diverse activities outside of Transition such as Cadets or Toastmasters. Some join UBC sport teams, like Fencing, Rowing, or Swimming. Some join other UBC clubs. Students learn to be judicious with respect to the number of extracurricular activities they choose as they learn to balance study and other activities and maintain the high standard of work required to achieve their goals of early entrance to university studies.

The Transition Program is looking for students who are passionate about learning and willing to put in the hours it takes to truly understand and interact with materials in a meaningful way. Additionally, the program looks for people who want to make a positive impact on their society.

This program is not suitable for all students.  For example, students who are pursuing athletics and sports to a high performance level will find more support for sports in other school settings.  This program is best suited for students who have been pursuing advanced level learning of any subjects two or three grade levels above their current enrolment. These students have passionate interests and demonstrate a dedication to high level production and performance. Typically these students find regular school easy and do little or no homework.  These students thrive on challenges above grade level and avidly seek opportunities to solve the most difficult of problems. Most students have been focusing on development of their musical or other talents for many years The best way to know if the program is a good fit for you is to learn about the program from the information session and visit the program site as part of the application and review process.  Most students readily identify whether the program is suitable for them from their direct experiences with program students and staff. Parents can also ask current parents about the experience of their children in the program and come to understand the impact of the program on students and families and in what ways the program is suitable for their children. Advisement and counselling for prospective students and their parents is provided through the application process.  

Students make significant adjustments to new challenges and opportunities when they enrol in the program.  

They engage in building new relationships and are also encouraged to keep up with other friends that they do not see as often as the students who are with them in the program.  Students learn how to maximize work time and organize time to meet their needs as well as their interests. For some students the commute to UBC daily can last 90-120 minutes one way.  Taking responsibility for the time spend commuting as well as packing daily to bring homework as well as lunch present new challenges. Students are consistently faced with honest feedback and assessment that is personalized; their efforts to learn, progress and wellness are closely monitored.  Students are also faced with overcoming habits such as procrastination and must take responsibility for completing assignments and welcoming feedback. Students experience genuine intense learning relationships with peers who recognize who they are as individuals, and invite them to enjoy making real connections, valuing the contributions of all and respecting self and other.  The steep learning trajectory introduces new challenges both academically and social-emotionally and students learn how to help one another attain their goals as well as meaningful relationships.

The common misconception about the program is that UTP students are only interested in academics and spend all their time studying and have little social life and fun.  In reality the students who join the program are diverse in their interests, areas of strength, talent, and passion. All students who join the program are eager to build friendships and work collaboratively to build a community of care.  Mentoring and peer learning are part of the student experiences both within the program and with the grads who visit the program on a regular basis. Visitors to the program regularly comment on the happiness of the students.

Being a member of the UTP community allows for some amazing opportunities to come your way, due to the program’s partnership with the University of British Columbia and the facilities and environment it offers. Not only that, but UTP provides students with an extensive support network of graduate students, parents, and teachers who believe that knowledge is valuable, not only on its own, but also when combined with characteristics such as maturity, kindness, and empathy. UTP offers a unique opportunity and vast resources to help students graduate high school at the ages of 14-16.


Following the information session, students submit application forms that also register them for the large group assessment day that is held at the UTP site on the UBC campus.  Following the assessment day students are informed of the status of their applications ranging from recommendations for school-based challenge programs or listed on the wait list or invited for a program visit plus interview with some additional assessment options.   Students invited for the interview are asked to submit a portfolio of work related to areas of demonstrated success, recent report cards and awards as well as previous psycho-educational assessment reports. At the interview students discuss their best learning experiences, reasons for applying to the program, social-emotional strength, stamina resilience, work ethic, goals and career interests.  Prior to acceptance students participate in a psycho-educational assessment administered by the UTP psychologist. Upon completion of the review process of all students who present readiness of university studies a gender-balanced cohort of approximately 20 students, no more than half from Vancouver, are invited to enrol in the program commencing the following September. Students not accepted to the program are invited to reapply the following year and may remain on the wait list to be contacted should openings occur prior to the start of the next school year.  Recommendations are discussed with students and parents as part of their consideration of the suitability of the program and student readiness for the challenges of radical academic acceleration. Students accepting placement in the program are invited to an orientation at the UBC location to help them prepare for entry into the program and to build friendships with current students and establish communication with all program staff.

It is important for prospective students and parents to hear about the program experience from current students and their parents as well as graduates and their parents.  Staff also provide valuable information about the coursework and expectations for students.

Applications are accepted from students who are interested in the challenges of accelerated learning and are currently enrolled in Grade 7, 8, or 9 in BC schools.  

Not necessarily. There are many factors that are considered as a part of a candidate’s application. The holistic view encompasses many parts of a student’s identity, including grades, achievements, extracurriculars, attitudes towards learning, etc.

Yes. Applicants can apply once per year as many years as they want as long as they are Grade 7 to Grade 9 age-wise. Transition does not accept applicants from Grade 10 or higher, because at that point the students would have less than two years before their graduation if they were to enter the program.

The application form should be submitted NO LATER than two days before the large group assessment the applicants plans on attending. Please refer here for more information. 

If you have passed onto the second stage of the application process (i.e. considered students / students who pass the Large Group Assessment) a Portfolio is required. It includes examples of the best work from various subjects, notably English, Mathematics, and Science. Additionally, considered students will be asked to bring a student letter explaining why they want to join UTP.

The form asks for basic information such as the name, address, current school, and other biographical facts of the applicant. It requires a copy of the applicant’s most recent report card and a list of awards and achievements in any category. It also asks for a photo, which can be any sort of recent photo, not necessarily a school photo. An unfamiliar item to most applicants is the Psycho-Educational assessment. This assessment is not a requirement, but we prefer to know if an applicant has gone through the assessment. It is due two days before the Large Group assessment the applicants plans on attending.

There is a section that asks for a portfolio. Please do not fill out this section. It will be due for students that are considered on the day they are invited to the program.

The entrance exams include sections on mathematics, reading, writing, problem solving, memory and reasoning. No additional preparation is needed prior to the exam; the evaluators are interested in the way applicants think and how they communicate their thinking, rather than simply how much they know. Students are encouraged to get a good night’s rest, perhaps even several good nights of sleep, and have a good breakfast. Students should bring a pencil, an eraser, AND a pen, as well as a water bottle. Most importantly, bring a lunch in the morning. Parents will not be able to drop off food at lunch because of the staggered lunchtimes and the fact that there will be no way of knowing beforehand where applicants are going to be for lunch. Although Transition is located on the UBC campus and there are places to buy lunch around, there will be NO time to buy anything. Applicants are encouraged to bring a book to read in case they have any spare time.

Besides the entrance exams, there will also be a reflection sheet at the end of the day about the applicant’s experience at the exam, and a personal writing assignment that is written in any unallocated time, of which only the latter is evaluated.

Bring a printed photo of the applicant. It can be any photo. A copy of the applicant’s report card, application form, and psychology assessment and/or IQ report (if available) is also helpful. 

Additional note to parents: the applicants will be in various parts of the campus throughout the day, so it is vital that they bring a packed lunch. Drop off of students starts at 8:45 and ends at 9:15 am. Parents will not be able to come upstairs with their child, but the applicants will be directed to where they need to go. Parents may pick their children up starting at 3:30, but please be aware that the applicants may take time to return to the main building where they were dropped off.

Unfortunately, no. If the applicant is age wise in grade 6, they will be 13 when they apply to UBC. UBC does not take students younger than 14. If the applicant is grade 6 age and wishes to apply to the program, UTP still encourages them to apply, but not to come to the large group assessment. They may receive an invitation later on.

The acceptance procedure is multi-phased. After the large group assessment, applicants that are being considered will receive a phone call inviting them to small group assessments. Applicants that will not be considered will also receive an email thanking them for participating in the testing. The email should arrive no later than a month after the second group assessment. Applicants that do not pass the first phase will have the chance to attend a meeting with the Transition staff at a later date. After the meeting, if there are any questions, personal appointments can be set up.

The Transition staff is aware that there are other deadlines to enroll in other programs and they work as quickly as they can though applications.

Since the testing is off-level, there is no disclosure of results. 

Yes. 200 students typically apply per year; hence, out of 10 applicants, only 1 is accepted. You may not be the 1 that is accepted or you may find a program that is better suited to your educational goals and needs. Therefore, confining yourself to one option is advised against.

There are many educational resources which may help you to succeed in your first year of Transition. Moreover, good study habits are integral to success in the program. To prepare, students should work on their time management and organization skills; using a planner; proactively self-studying and searching for knowledge; and, most importantly, maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Accepted students will receive some homework from the teachers to work on over the summer.

Transition Life

There are many student-run clubs in Transition. Although every year is different, there are some clubs which currently exist including: Robotics, Coding, Website, Drama, Writing, Reading, Math, Debate, Gavel, Model United Nations (MUN), and Reach for the Top. Many students also to do extracurriculars outside of Transition. Some students participate in Cadets or Toastmasters. Some join UBC sport teams, like Fencing, Rowing, or Swimming. Some join other UBC clubs. Being a part of too many extracurriculars is not encouraged, because over-involvement can make it difficult to maintain a high standard of work at the same time.

It should be noted that combining interests in UTP and competitive sports in very difficult to do, due to timing constraints and the amount of dedication and work ethic necessary to accomplish it. Often times, students are forced to choose. Only a few students have ever successfully done both.

Since UTP is an academically-focused program, it is not suited for students who wish to play sports professionally.

All students participate in a variety of student-led clubs as well as activities outside of the program.  It is highly recommended that students continue to develop their talents abilities beyond their studies within the program.  Students report these activities promote well-being and reduce stress.

Some extracurriculars will not be possible due to the travel times to-and-from. Some will require a level of commitment you will no longer be able to give. It depends on the extracurricular, how determined you are to continue, and if you physically can. How many extracurriculars you can successfully do while maintaining a high standard of work is very different for every student.

One strategy that can help you determine if you can handle both Transition and your extracurriculars is to quit most of them before the start, and slowly add them back as you learn to manage life in the Transition Program.

For a window into a Transition student with a lot of extracurriculars’ life, check this reflection out!

In the first year, known as Year One, students study Biology 12, Chemistry 11, English 10-11, Social Studies/Humanities 10, Civics 11, Philosophy, Physics 11, Mathematics 10-11, and Recreation (PE/Gym) 11.

In the second year, known as Year Two, students study Chemistry 12, English 12, Literature 12, History 12, Physics 12, Mathematics 12, AB Calculus, Psychology 12, Philosophy, and Recreation 12. 

Refer to this page for more information on courses. 

Students can anticipate a workload that is both challenging and substantial.  Students are advised to plan for one hour of homework for each of the four teachers per night.  Students will learn strategies for effective and efficient management of workload, homework, and project work.   Students who employ these strategies indicate that the workload is both interesting and manageable.

Check out this page for some Transition student testimonials! 

The program offers a liberal arts education designed to prepare students for entry to any of the Faculties of UBC. Coursework is based on grade 11 and 12 curriculum that is extended to university level work provided by teachers, professors, and experiences such as the DNA seminar at UBC’s Michael Smith Lab.  Electives and languages are not available at the program and students are encouraged to pursue these interests outside of the program.

To learn more about the specific courses covered in this program, please refer to the What Is UTP? page.

The answer to this question varies by who you talk to. It also varies by what you consider your definition of those terms.

It is different from normal high school. Instead of 2,000 students in a school, there’s only 40. You have a chance to study on UBC premises and enjoy the benefits of learning the layout of the campus before you become a student. Unlike other high schools, there is no choice about what classes you take. UTP does not have sports teams, but our partner school University Hill Secondary does; those interested may join them. Transition students do participate in extracurriculars like other high school students. Despite the differences, UTP is still a high school and you do gain experience in one.

Transition students can and do maintain a social life outside of Transition, however there is much more planning around study times involved. Additionally Transition students have the full support of our expansive community which  reaches out to other students in Transition, to the parents and relatives of students, to our teachers, and to the roughly 400 graduate students. 

For a window into a current Transition student’s high school life, these articles may be of interest. 

Social life focuses on building strong bonds of friendship, helping one another, and valuing the contributions of all through sharing of talents and abilities and service as well as leadership.  Students annually create a concert of amazing talents and collaborations including band, choir and musical groups for parents as part of the annual Winter Potluck Social. Parents continue the long standing tradition of Soup Days during the winter months, providing hot soup and other foods once a week in support of current students and interested UTP grads attending UBC.  Students who participate in the program maintain connections with one another during undergrad studies and keep in touch with one another across the decades.

The program follows the annual school calendar of the Vancouver School District beginning in September through to the end of June.  School days commence at 9:00 am and dismiss at 3:15 pm Monday through Friday. All holidays and school closure dates are available on the annual calendar.  This information will be provided to each student prior to the start of the school year.

Accelerated learning is not so much accelerated as it is personalized, customized to student abilities to learn and at the pace and level of complexity that is experienced as comfortable, engaging, and inspiring.

  • Academic acceleration utilizes gap-based instruction to build core knowledge and skills.   Conceptual frameworks promote higher level critical and creative thinking. Curriculum is focused on linking knowledge across disciplines through flexible-paced instruction and problem-based challenges.  Students are introduced to rigorous academic standards of scholarship and through peer learning and creative collaboration extend the depth and breadth of knowledge and its applications to living a meaningful life.  
  • Social-emotional development is supported by the program culture of respect, caring and social responsibility, a focus on local and global citizenship and leadership.  Students develop awareness of self and society through customized learning experiences in Philosophy, Psychology, and activities such as Model United Nations and International Global Citizenship Tours.
  • Career exploration involves Campus Day explorations of UBC courses, UBC mentorship and peer mentoring.

The teachers are: Ms. Amy Safarik (English, Civics, Literature), Mr. Dean Sheardown (Recreation, Mathematics, History), Dr. Ludmila Shepelev (Year Two Physics, Psychology), Mr. Graham Hooton (Recreation, Chemistry, Biology, Year One Physics), Dr. Michael Griffin (Philosophy), and Dr. Lauchie MacDonald (AB Calculus).

Yes. Students of the Program are encouraged to partake in several educational field trips or events over the course of two years. Traditionally, students will have a camping experience at the beginning of every school year, as well as a trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island and an international tour in Europe, which are funded by the PAC and by individual students’ families. However, students experiencing financial difficulties will not be denied these enriching opportunities, and can receive monetary support from the Vancouver School Board.

Students succeed in this program by working collaboratively with others with intention, focus, and perseverance, engaging whole-heartedly with the struggles of mastery learning, and being open to asking for help.  Students learn to appreciate and respect their own talents and abilities and through sharing and working together to value and respect the talents and abilities of other students, in particular how combinations of diverse talents and perspectives creates better insights and and leads to more profound solution ideas.  Students learn from their experiences and develop increasing confidence and the skills of learning how to learn. Students succeed in this program by honest effort and acceptance that learning is not a competition but a shared experience where everyone advances and succeeds.

Students need to bring willingness to change, openness to other perspectives, a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence.  Students need to forgo perfection and value learning from mistakes. Students need to respect self and others and be prepared to help build community of care.  Students need to bring positive attitudes, patience, listening, and endless curiosity and openness to laughter, wit and wide-ranging humour.

Students participate in the annual Fall camp experience to promote development of strong communication and teamwork as well as orientation to learning community and expectations and group problem solving.  Local field trips are complemented by bi-annual Marine Biology studies at Bamfield on Vancouver Islands and bi-annual International Global Citizenship Tours such as the 2018 Best of British Isles Tour and the 2016 tour of St. Petersburg, Munich and Prague. The educational tours are customized to optimize student learning about culture, architecture, art, history, and appreciation of the opportunities to contribute to the world as global citizens.