Picking the program you want to study, and the university where you’ll spend your time, is a big decision that requires research and some footwork. Here are some tips to get you started.
Picking a program
With more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered in Canada as well as professional programs and certificates, it may be hard to choose which is right for you. One way to decide is to focus on what you do well and the topics that interest you the most. Then, think of what you see yourself doing in the future. Ask for help and advice from your parents or family members, professionals you admire, guidance counsellors, teachers and even career planning services. eINFO is a guide to Ontario universities for secondary school students and guidance counsellors, and it’s a good place to begin your search. eINFO has a searchable database of programs, scholarships and residence information for every university in Ontario.
Is this school a good “fit”?
Consider what would make a university a good “fit” for you. Look at programs of study, campus size, location, urban versus suburban environment, cost, housing availability (on and off campus), student services and transportation. Once you’ve identified the must-have factors, your next step is to investigate the individual universities.
Visit the website and social media channels
Take the opportunity to visit the different university websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. You’ll find all the facts you need to decide whether or not to put a particular university on your “need to visit” list. You’ll also get a sneak peak at what life as a student is like at each university.
Get on campus
You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it! So get your feet onto campus. Tour the campus and get a “feel” for everything the school has to offer. Most universities offer online tours or virtual tours to help those where distance may make it difficult to attend in person. You can book a York tour online. Open houses and special events are also great times to check out campus atmosphere. If you missed York’s Fall Campus Day, don’t worry. Hop on a tour and save the date for York’s Spring Open House this March.
Look into the admission requirements
Visit the prospective/future student sections and the admission and application pages of different university Web sites to find out what you need before you apply. Keep in mind no two universities are alike so the criteria will differ from school to school. Find out about admission requirements, auditions, evaluations and supplementary info at York.
Each university should be able to provide a good picture of the projected cost of a degree. Make sure you’re aware of what it will cost. We’ve done the math for you on our tuition web pages. The page will also link you to the financial services website at York, where you can find information about OSAP, bursaries, scholarships and other awards.
Scholarships, bursaries and awards
Each school offers different scholarships, so take some time to find out what opportunities are available to you at each university. In 2010-2011, York distributed more than $50M in financial assistance, scholarships and awards to students to ensure they had access to a university education. But you’ll want to find out if a school offers other forms of assistance like special work/study programs or job opportunities that may be available for students who need to earn some extra money. (We do!) Check out the all of the ways that York helps you fund your education.
In order to be successful at university, you’re going to need some support. No, we’re not talking about finances again. Whether you need help with writing, language skills, study skills, research – you’re going to want to talk to an expert. As well, if you’re a student with a diagnosed disability, having supports in-place at the university level to help you navigate the university is essential. And if something personal arises, resources, counselling and advocacy can make all the difference. This is something you definitely want to consider.
Don’t forget to consider factors beyond academics. Life at university is way more than just going to class! What kinds of clubs and activities does the university offer? Is there an on-campus newspaper or radio station? Clubs for special interests (e.g. ethnic groups, religious support, political groups, theatre, debating, groups providing services to transgendered, bisexual, lesbian and gay communities and their friends)? Are there opportunities to volunteer on campus? Can you go on internship or a professional placement? Can you develop your leadership skills? Are there opportunities to go on exchange and get and international exposure? How will the university help you grow professionally and get the job you really want?
We know that evaluating a university is a rigorous process. Take your time. Take the experts. Ask lots of questions. We’re here for you!