Are you in grades 9 to 11 and looking into early acceptances or early considerations for university? Well, look no further! Here is a comprehensive list of things you should be looking out for to ensure success:
1. Know Your Programs
The number one most important thing when considering university early is simply knowing your program(s) of interest. You don’t need an extensive list of the exact programs to which you expect to apply in the future, but do aim to have a general idea of what course of study you want to pursue. And if you cannot decide just yet, or feel torn between two or more possible programs — don’t worry! That is pretty normal at this stage. Just go make sure you keep your options open (via the classes you choose in high school, for example) by associating yourself with more than one field of study or consider an undecided/undeclared major.
2. Don’t Close Doors
Because there is still a substantial amount of time left before you apply — and thus a substantial amount of time to change your mind — don’t close any doors. As mentioned before, it is beneficial to have a general sense of direction as to where you want to go, but this shouldn’t mean closing yourself off from other paths.
My experience: Although I was interested in pursuing business since grade 7, I took other courses such as biology and chemistry until grade 11 to ensure that I kept my options open.
3. Volunteer & Get Involved
One of the most important things to consider in high school is volunteering and getting involved. Experiences of this nature not only satisfy the required 40 volunteer hours to receive the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), for example; they also look great on university applications and, more importantly, provide you with countless opportunities for personal growth.
My experience: Personally, I began volunteering in grade 7 and continue to do so to this day. In high school, I was extremely involved within my local community through the Mayor’s Youth Council and various school committees such as the Student Council, the school newspaper and the Debate Society. Not only did my volunteer experiences strengthen my supplementary applications for various programs but they also opened up new doors for me through non-academic scholarships and provided me with the soft skills I needed to succeed in university.
4. Begin Compiling a Co-curricular Record
Keeping track of the things you accomplish is just as important as accomplishing them. If you don’t do so already, from now onwards, ensure that you maintain a detailed list of all activities in which you participated and the awards/honors you received. (Tip: make sure every entry is dated and has a few sentences pertaining to its importance.) Not only will this help you seamlessly put together supplementary applications when the time arises but it will also provide a guiding hand for your resumé and cover letter.
5. Take a Course Early
You may have already heard of the term fast-tracking from your peers, guidance counsellors and/or parents. However, what you might not have heard is how important it can be to fast-track. Most university programs require that students have six grade 12 U/M, courses with the main requirement being English. The secret to getting early acceptance? The more requirements you have completed — and the sooner you have completed them— the higher your chances for being accepted into a program.
My experience: I took my required grade 12 English course in grade 11. This both sped up my acceptance process and permitted me to have three spares in grade 12, allowing me to put more time and focus on my other requirements.
6. Go to university fairs/campus tours
I know that going to university fairs, campus tours and open houses can be intimidating before grade 12, but it is never too early to know what options are out there and which ones you might want to pursue. In fact, universities encourage all high-school students (grades 9 to 12 inclusive) to come to their campus events.
My experience: Since my sister is three years older than me, I learned a lot about the application process and the various Canadian schools when she was applying. I made it a point to tag along to all her university fairs/campus tours and this made life a lot easier for me come grade 12 when I began applying. (Tip: If you have an older sibling, make sure to use their application process as a learning experience, or ask an older friend if you can tag along to their events!)
7. Start Saving Up Money!
Applying to university can get expensive: general application fees, supplementary fees, travel expenses — it all adds up. It is important you start saving now, whether that is through jobs or scholarships, so that you can make the most out of your application process in the future. Any leftover money can be also become a great starting point for your university budget!
8. Apply Early When the Time Comes
This last tip may seem obvious, but it is one many people forget to acknowledge when the time comes to apply. University acceptances are sent out on a rolling basis, so even if you submit your application before a deadline, your chances of being accepted might be lower than, say, if you submitted your application a few weeks before.
I hope these tips help you all with your applications and early considerations. The most important thing, however, is to not stress, calmly prepare and, as mentioned above, APPLY EARLY.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG.