The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your University
You just got accepted, but do you know which school is right for you? 🤔
Now that you have applied and received your acceptance letters, you have the difficult decision of choosing the university that is the best fit for you. We thought about the most important points to consider and created this guide to make choosing a school easier.
It’s important to ask yourself which opportunities are the most valuable for you in reaching your career and academic goals. There is a whole world of extracurricular possibilities, do you know what is available to you?
Many students are interested in research-based education because it provides hands-on experience in the lab. Universities that are focused on research always have opportunities available for students, it is just a matter of seeking these projects out for yourself. If research sounds like your thing, check out this list of the top-ranked research universities in Canada.
Other schools take another approach to get students more engaged with their learning by offering co-op or internship programs. Co-op programs are paid positions with companies during your degree to immerse yourself in the field. Just in case you weren’t aware, you would not be attending classes during your co-op… woohoo! 🎉 The University of Waterloo has the largest co-op program in the world so if you are interested in learning on the job then this school may be a good fit for you. Alternatively, some universities may also include internship experiences which can either be full-time or part-time and paid or unpaid positions.
On your university’s website, they will mention whether or not any of these opportunities will be available to you, so be sure to check that out!
The Cost of Your Education:
Nobody likes to talk about this… but it is absolutely critical to consider your finances when choosing your university. We won’t sugarcoat it: education is really expensive, but you can make smart decisions based on your financial position. Please remember that higher tuition doesn’t always equal a better education or student experience. Some schools that have cheaper tuition may offer very generous entrance scholarships because they want you to attend their school. For a lot of students, this can make a huge impact on their decision because it could mean the difference between taking out a student loan or not. Other schools may offer more scholarships which equals more opportunities to save money. If you’re planning on moving to university, you might not have considered the associated costs of living on your own. You have to pay for your housing, food, and cleaning supplies. It adds up very fast. We don’t want to scare you, if you have your mind made up about a certain school, don’t let the cost deter you. There are ways to manage your financial situation: you just have to be smart about it.
Living at home or in Residence:
Maybe you’ve thought about this when applying, but have you really thought about it? Do you think you’re ready to be independent? Are you capable of being away from your mom’s home-cooked meal for a long-time? There are many advantages and disadvantages that may impact whether or not you choose to move away.
Perhaps, the most important benefit to living at home is the support you would receive from your family and friends. Having that support system can help you get through all the highs and lows of the university. Other advantages of living at home can include having all your amenities at your disposal, having home-cooked meals ready for you, easy access to laundry machines, and having privacy when you need it the most.
Don’t forget about the disadvantages of living at home too! Aren’t you tired of receiving a list of chores and reminders to do them? Do your siblings get on your nerves? Yeah, I thought so. It may be hard to be around your family all of the time, especially as you are trying to find your place in society. That is definitely not the only disadvantage, others may include not having the opportunity to explore another city or country, and missing out on the full university experience. Let’s not overlook the fact that you will have to cook all your meals (to keep yourself alive)… can you imagine cooking dinner while reading your textbook for tomorrow’s exam?
Now here are the advantages of choosing a university far… far away. Gaining independence can help you grow and develop into the type of person you would like to become. In addition, another benefit can include making new friends and personal connections while exploring new places. You will also learn how to manage your time efficiently and be able to roll out of bed five minutes before your class begins without having to worry about the commute.
Though there are clearly many benefits to moving away to university, there is a much higher cost of living associated with it. Living on campus can be quite expensive for the room alone, with some universities even forcing you to buy a meal plan. Not only is cost a disadvantage but you may also get homesick too. Also, take into consideration there are lots of distractions (partying, too many noises since the walls are very thin), and no privacy (especially in the bathroom).
Are you a social butterfly ready to spread your wings or are you a hermit who would rather lock themselves away in a library? Regardless, you may want to consider the social opportunities that your potential university provides. Most schools in major cities are commuter schools that don’t necessarily foster a tight-knit community. So while there are lots to do in these cities, you may not have that sense of a college-type community. Other universities are located in “college towns” where most students live on or near campus rather than spread out throughout the city and in surrounding areas. If you’re looking to build more connections, consider universities that host large events during frosh or week of welcome. If you’re interested in becoming a part of a sisterhood or brotherhood, think about which schools have prevalent Greek Life. Consider choosing a school that fits your social needs as well as your academic needs.
We aren’t saying you should choose your school based on prestige… however you may be pressured to go to the “best” school. In all honesty, most schools in Canada will provide you with the same academic rigour regardless of where you choose to attend so it is best to pick a school that feels right for you. If you’re still wondering about school ranking, check out this link for the top schools in Canada overall, ranked by highest quality, by most innovative, and by the leaders of tomorrow. If you decide to take school ranking into consideration, be sure to look at the program ranking for that school as well. Many schools have their strengths, but also their weaknesses, so ensure that the school you are considering has a good reputation for your field of study. Remember, the best school for you is the one you choose to attend.
Now that you know what to look for in a potential university, hopefully, this will guide you to make the right decision for your future aspirations!
Have more questions about choosing a school? Contact us here!