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Considering attending a post-secondary institution next year? It’s time to start thinking about the right university for you! Whether you’re finishing up your final year of high school or you’re a mature student who has been away from school for some time, deciding on your next place of study is a big decision. And you’re not alone – I was there two years ago, asking myself the same questions you probably are and wondering where I would end up studying.
I am here as a second-year #YUBlog student blogger to help you break down some of the factors you should consider when making this choice. Below you’ll find a list of questions I asked myself when I made my university decision. It’s important to note that although these aspects mattered to me, they may not be as important to you – choosing a university is a personal and multi-faceted decision. Now let’s get to it!
What are you looking for in a university?
One of the first things you might want to consider is your ideal university – in what kind of place you can picture yourself studying for the next few years? Is it away from home? Is it a small, traditional campus? Is it studying abroad?
When I envisioned myself at university a few years back, I knew that I wanted to study in a large, modern campus with a lot of facilities. I also wanted the ability to explore career paths and have access to many academic resources while having a personalized experience. Just knowing what I imagined for my university experience significantly helped me narrow down my choices to land me right where I am now!
What do you want to study?
This is perhaps one of the most important things to consider when choosing a university. Some of you may have already decided on your major, while others may want to experiment with your degree during your first year. No matter where you fall, it’s important to find a program that excites you!
Universities have hundreds of programs of study – this may be a lot to process at once, so here are some questions that you may want to consider:
- Does this program interest me? Is this a degree that I would like to spend 3+ years working toward?
- What kind of degree options are offered?
- What are my Major & Minor options? Are Certificates available?
- What kind of courses will I be able to take? You can use the York Courses Website to get an idea of what you may be taking.
- Will I have any experiential education or co-op & internship opportunities?
At York University, there are 11 Faculties and 200+ undergraduate and graduate programs of study, so I definitely had a lot to choose from! To help me (and you!) make this decision, I worked backwards and asked myself: What is my end career goal? What do I need to do to get there? For example, I aspire to be an English-French Translator. So that means my options go from 200+ programs to 4 possible options: English, French, Professional Writing and Translation. This made my decision much easier, and I recommend you do the same if you are unsure about your program!
Is location an important factor for you?
Many Ontario universities attract local and international students. Some students may be comfortable travelling any distance to further their education, while others prefer to stay near their hometown. When considering the location of your potential university, you may want to consider the following factors:
- Am I comfortable living away from home?
- Can I afford the costs of living away from home?
- Is it possible for me to commute to and from university?
- Do I enjoy the city environment?
I considered each of these questions when deciding between universities. As a local student, York U’s access to a fantastic public transit system was a huge draw, because it was convenient to travel between home and school. With the recent addition of the York University Subway Station, it also became very easy to travel to downtown Toronto where I could enjoy the city with some friends, study at a café or even go to a local museum! I suggest familiarizing yourself with university locations and deciding where you’re most comfortable travelling. If you’re interested in learning about the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, our previous #YUBlog post, “All Aboard! A Student Guide for New Torontonians” is a great place to start!
Do I like the university’s atmosphere?
Each university across Ontario has its own vibe. Some universities are expansive and modern, while others are tight-knit and traditional – it’s all about finding what works for you! The best way to know how a university feels to you is to visit the campus. The goal for you is to be able to feel like you’re at home when you’re at the university.
As a high-school student, I attended numerous York U Campus Days to truly get a feel for the University. Each time I went on a Keele Campus tour, I had a different set of questions in mind to help me make my decision that I could discuss both with York University tour guides and Faculty members during Faculty-specific tours.
What financial support is available?
University is a big investment, so it’s important that you research and fully understand the financial support that you can receive from various universities. Most universities offer entrance scholarships that are based upon academic merit, financial need and/or community service. However, always check with each individual institution for specific details on financial support and scholarships.
I remember that scholarships and financial aid were an important factor I considered when making my university selection. At York U, there are numerous scholarships, awards and bursaries for new students. One of my favourite ones is the Student Life Award: an automatic $500 scholarship for students with a final admission average of 75% whose admission conditions are met and the acceptance of the offer of admission is received by the date indicated in the offer letter.
Remember, no matter where you decide to go, it’s important to take the time to research funding opportunities available to you and budgeting accordingly!
Attend the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF)!
One of the most important steps that helped me decide on the right university for me was attending the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF). During this fair, I could:
- Talk face-to-face with university professors, students and university representatives;
- Learn about programs, admission requirements and student life; and
- Attend university-specific information sessions.
You can also drop by the York University booth for any questions you may have or for a quick chat. This year, OUF is taking place from September 28 to 30 – mark it in your calendar! Be sure to read our previous #YUBlog post, “Get the Most Out of the Ontario Universities’ Fair” for a complete guide to this event.
What do you want?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding where and what you want to study. Everyone has different preferences and perceptions of what each university has to offer. The important thing is to know what you are looking for and ask yourself, “Where can I imagine myself being for the next few years?” Keep an open mind, do your research and be excited to explore the different options!
We hope that this overview has helped you learn about what to consider when choosing a university. I know that it may seem that there is a lot to consider, but once you start researching different universities and learn about what you are personally looking for in a post-secondary institution, you’ll be right on your way to finding your perfect fit!
If you’d like to learn more about York University, please comment below or tweet us at @YorkUStudents!