Check out the most popular questions we receive!
How do I apply to university?
For Ontario schools, you apply to universities on OUAC. At the beginning of your grade 12 year, your school will likely go through the step-by-step process with you on how to navigate and apply from OUAC. While most Ontario universities and programs don’t require supplementary applications, there are some that do. As a result along with applying on OUAC, you may have to also complete the supplementary applications from those schools but each school will send them to you directly.
Are supplementary applications mandatory?
This depends on the specific program and school that you are applying for. Some programs will indicate on their website that supplementary application is required whereas others will say it’s recommended/optional. If you are not sure, please don’t hesitate to contact the school to inquire.
What are university interviews like?
Do grade 11 marks matter for admissions?
For the most part, no. Your admission average to Ontario schools is often based on your top 6 Grade 12 U/M.
However, this really depends on the school and program you are applying to. When grade 12 marks are unavailable, there are some universities that look at grade 11 marks for early acceptances. To know for sure in advance, it would be beneficial to contact the school you are interested in applying for.
What the difference between major and minors? When do I apply for one?
Majors require taking more courses in that subject field than minors. For example, if you decide to major in biochemistry and minor in physiology, this means you’ll need to take most of your courses in biochemistry and a few in physiology by graduation. Each school and program is different in the amount of course credits needed to qualify for a major/ minor.
At some schools, (such as UofT) you decide your major and/or minors at the end of first year while at other schools (such as McMaster) there is no application process for majors or minors. You simply take however many courses required to qualify for that major/minor. At the time of graduation, there are usually some forms that need to be filled out and you can indicate on those forms what major or minor you have completed.
Even after choosing your major/minor you can always change your mind and switch in your upper years!
What is the difference between Health Science and Life Science?
They are very similar! The key difference is that health sciences (as the name suggests) is more focused on human health whereas life sciences is more broadly focused on living things in general. They differ in the courses that will be available for you to take: health science programs have fewer courses in general biology /chemistry and more courses focusing on health from different perspectives (global health, molecular biology etc.). As well Health Sciences at McMaster especially is very collaborative and discussion based (often more assignments than tests). Life sciences generally have more research options, more specialization options and generally cover a wider science breadth. One isn’t better than the other – it depends on your interests!
What is the difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering?
Check out the answer here!
Do high school courses matter for grad school (e.g. med school, law school, pharmacy, etc.)?
No – only university grades are considered for admission into grad school. Every graduate/professional school program has unique grade requirements so make sure to check them out before planning to apply by visiting their website.
Is it true that your grades drop?
It is not always the case, but it is possible. This is because university courses can feel different than high school courses in terms of the expectations, content, grading, etc. and it may take some time to get used to them. Even if your grades drop, it’s important to reflect on your studying methods, ask for help and work on improving them – going from high school to university is hard for many students. You got this!
Do you go through the same material in first year that you did in grade 12 courses?
A lot of the time, first year courses overlap with grade 12 material, especially at the start of the course. This is done to refresh your memory and so everyone starts at the same stage of content and background. However, within a few weeks of classes you may be learning entirely new material sprinkled with only a few familiar concepts. It really depends on your program and school!
What is the most effective method of studying in university?
There is not one most effective method, there are multiple! Depending on the subject, you may study best using flashcards, handwriting notes, doing practice problems etc. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you!
The commonalities between these effective methods would be time management and determination. Watching informative videos, contacting undergrad students and using the resources around you on campus are great ways to learn what will work best for you. A special tip would be: never be afraid to ask for help if you have any questions!
Another common strategy is to review lecture notes the day of the lecture. You don’t want to cram all of your studying in one night, and you’ll thank yourself for taking an extra 30-60 minutes solidifying the concepts you’ve just learned. If you study well with flashcards, make a set after each lecture! If you’re better at writing out information for better retention, make a lecture summary sheet! Add in little diagrams and pictures if you’re a visual learner.
How are university courses different from high school courses in terms of format?
Each university course has its own format, but most of them have quizzes, midterms, assignments/labs, and a final. You will get the course outline from the beginning of the semester with all of the due dates and grading, so it is easier to schedule your semester accordingly and know what you have coming ahead. University courses require a lot more independent work and you are in total charge of what you have to do to succeed in the course!
Since some class sizes are huge, what are some ways to get course help?
Yes, some classes are in fact huge in size, and it mainly applies to first and second year courses. It can sometimes be difficult to ask questions or have one-on-one time with the professor during a lecture. However, all professors have office hours and they are always available via email, so do not be afraid to contact them if you need any help. They are used to teaching their courses and you shouldn’t feel shy or intimidated to ask questions!
As well, university courses have teacher assistants (TA’s) that can also help you understand the content, so reaching out to them would also be of great help.
Lastly, forming study groups with your peers in the same course can help you study better and learn from each other! Some university courses have assigned study groups provided by the university or the professor/TA’s, which is always a great resource if you like to study with others and have further questions.
How do I decide which university to attend?
This boils down to many factors, including: location, fees, facilities, student resources, scholarships, opportunities available, course requirements and the campus itself. If you are not sure of which university you want to commit to, we suggest making a list with these components and comparing the universities to each other. Reach out to current students and alumni – we are a great resource if you are unsure of who to contact!
The University of Waterloo has a great resource for helping you choose the best university for you here
How are university students able to have a work-life balance?
One important thing to remember: don’t overload yourself with academics, extracurriculars and free time. You have 4 years at university, so try out a broad range of activities! Now is the time to explore your interests – try to space them out throughout your 4 years.
Finding your own groove is also key. Different students have different needs, so don’t compare yourself to your friends or other classmates. It can be daunting when you hear that they spent the last 2 weeks prepping for the final, but if you know that you only need 1 week, don’t feel bad that you haven’t started studying earlier. In the same regard, if you see your friends going out and having fun despite having an assignment due while you’re pulling all-nighters for the same work, don’t feel bad about that either! Everyone is different. But remember: take breaks to avoid burn-out… and trust me, that is a very real thing. Whether it’s a 15 minute walk outside, or watching your favourite TV show, try to set some time away to breathe.
Maintaining a good work-life balance is all dependent on your time-management skills. Don’t fit too many tasks to be completed in a week, and use a schedule to organize your class time, lab/tutorial time and homework time. Maybe even allocate spaces for free time in your schedule! This may start off rocky, but as time progresses, you’ll definitely find your groove. Jumping from high school to university is a big leap, especially during the pandemic, so try not to be so hard on yourself.
How do I book a campus tour?
Each university is different in this regard – some will only offer virtual guided tours and some may offer in-person guided tours. Having said that, if you would like to explore the university campus on your own time, the grounds are open to the public (but you may not be able to enter buildings, depending on the time of year).
To book a guided tour, search “ x university guided campus tour” on Google and various links will show up. Choose the link that takes you to the official university website, and follow the instructions from there.
Are extracurricular activities in university important?
They are absolutely an important component of your university career. You should always try to join clubs that not only interest you, but also clubs that you believe would align with your career goals and provide you with meaningful experiences. Extracurricular activities are also EXTREMELY important if you plan on pursuing more advanced education. Not only does it make you a well-rounded and passionate student, you can also put these experiences on your resume if you lack paid work experience! It’s often difficult to find jobs in your field of study without prior experience, so volunteering in the community and joining clubs would be an excellent way to put your foot in the door.
How do I become a research assistant for a lab?
Being a research assistant is an excellent extracurricular activity – often, it can also be paid! Many universities have a Work-Study program if you require financial assistance, and the jobs available are typically research-related positions. This is an excellent way to become a research assistant for a lab.
If your university does not have this program, or you simply do not qualify, you can also find a professor whose research matches your interests, and reach out to them regarding volunteering in their lab. If you search for their lab website, specific information on undergraduate student volunteers will likely be available.
If you are unable to find lab website information, you can always cold email professors about being a student volunteer in their lab. There are many email templates online, so you can check those out. Also, feel free to contact any one of us for more information! Don’t be disappointed if you do not hear back from the professor, this is normal and it does not mean that you are not an exceptional student. It may simply mean that they do not require additional volunteers at the time of contact. Remember, it only takes one response!
How can I find scholarships? How do I apply to them?
You can learn about scholarships in several ways such as: contacting the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend and through researching information online. Here are some helpful resources to check out:
ScholarshipsCanada.com is a website that has over 99,000 awards listed. You can sign up to find scholarships that match your profile and save your info to the dashboard. Yconic.com is an extensive, searchable database of scholarships, student awards, bursaries and grants. You’ll also find information about student loans, applications and budget planning
Employment and Social Development Canada offers valuable information about savings plans, student loans, grants and scholarships.
International scholarships has information on scholarships available to Canadians and non-Canadians studying in Canada and abroad.
Each scholarship has its own requirements. The scholarship’s website should give you an idea of who qualifies for the scholarship and how to apply. Make sure you read the application carefully, fill it out completely, and meet the application deadline.
How does OSAP work?
The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a financial aid program that can help you pay for college or university. OSAP offers funding through:
- Grants: money you don’t have to pay back
- A student loan: money you need to repay once you’re done school
When you apply for OSAP, you are automatically considered for both grants and a loan. If you don’t want to take a loan, and you’re a full-time or part-time student, you can decline it after your application is approved.
The amount of money you can get depends on your:
- Education expenses – the amount of money you need for tuition, books, child care (for full-time and part-time students), personal living expenses (full-time students), supplies and equipment
- Course load – whether you’re a full-time or part-time student
- Program hours – for students in micro-credential programs only
- Personal financial situation – based on you and your family’s income, family size, dependants and other factors
The OSAP funding year starts in September and you must start a new OSAP application for each funding year. The online OSAP application is usually ready by early May. It’s recommended to apply at least 6-8 weeks before the start of your study term.
OSAP is issued in two installments with approximately 60% in the fall semester and the remaining 40% in the winter semester. Once the school confirms your enrolment, funds will be released to you. Your OSAP account online will show the estimated release date of your funding. You will also see how much of your funding is being directed to the school and how much will be sent to your bank account. You will only receive funds in your bank account if your OSAP disbursement is greater than the amount you owe the university.
What is the difference between a bursary, loan, grant and a scholarship?
Scholarships, grants and bursaries are all types of financial assistance that you don’t have to pay back (free money!), whereas a loan is money you need to repay once you’re done school.
Scholarships are typically based on academic merit. For example, entrance scholarships are based on your grades in high school. Scholarships can also be based on your volunteer or community involvement and these types of scholarships typically require a separate application.
Bursaries are based on financial need. They may also have academic requirements, but their main purpose is to support students without the means to afford school otherwise. Each bursary has its own requirements. The bursary’s website should give you an idea of who qualifies for the bursary and how to apply. Make sure you read the application carefully, fill it out completely, and meet the application deadline.
Grants are gift aid awarded to students and are often also based on financial need.
Student loans make up a big proportion of student aid, specifically through OSAP for Ontario residents. Typically, loans are disbursed by the government. Some banks also offer student loans. The terms of the loan — like interest rate and repayment schedule — vary depending on who offers the loan, and who receives it. Loans are typically paid back after you leave school — and interest often doesn’t start accruing until then.
Are there jobs on campus?
Yes! Many schools have a dedicated part of their website that helps students find open positions on campus. Search your school’s website or call the financial aid office to find out where you can find this information. You may be required to apply for these jobs through the school’s online system. Make sure you note whether certain positions are only available to work-study students.
In addition to your school’s online job postings, you can also inquire with current students or employees at the school about possible job openings. Maybe they are aware of an opening that hasn’t been listed yet. Perhaps they’ll tell you to check the school newspaper to find out about additional job opportunities.