8 Things to Consider when selecting a College or University
With post-secondary application deadlines approaching, choosing between University and College institutions doesn’t have to be a daunting task. As long as you are willing to do a little research, the application process should be a breeze.
So, what should you weigh when making your decision? This list includes 8 important factors you should consider for each school:
Institution Size. Do you mind being one of 500 students in a classroom? Would you prefer a classroom environment where the Professor knows you by name? Campus sizes can range from 2000 to 40,000 students, and the size of your school will probably matter to you once you get there. Take note of whether the school you are considering is small, mid-size or large.
Atmosphere. The University or College you choose to go to will be your home for 4 or more years, so you want to make sure you like the environment. Where is the school located, and is it far away from home?
Would you be excited at the thought of being far away from home, or would you prefer to be closer by?
Academics. Every institution offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs that you can choose from. To quickly find out what programs are offered by which schools, websites like http://www.electronicinfo.ca/en/ are a great tool. Search by school or by program, and also gather information on residence, meal plans, scholarships and much more.
Experiential Learning. At one point in time, degree and diploma programs with an experiential learning component were not that common. Now, many post-secondary programs come with a field placement, internship or co-op attached. If you find your program of interest infused with work experience, consider yourself lucky. Having some relevant work experience under your belt before graduating will make your entry into the professional workforce much easier.
Admissions Requirements. What are the requirements necessary to gain admission into your program of interest? For Universities in Ontario, a student’s Top 6 Grade 12 ‘U’ or ‘M’ courses are considered, with a minimum average required for entry into the program. Specific Grade 12 pre-requisite courses may also be required depending on the area of study, such as Biology, Chemistry, Calculus etc… Note that some programs also have additional requirements like auditions, interviews, Portfolio submissions, or personal statements.
Accommodations. Most Universities and Colleges offer a variety of on-campus living options known to most as ‘Residence’. Suite-style and shared accommodations are available, with the option of going the co-ed or single-sex route. You can customize your meal plan based on your appetite and enjoy other features like on-site laundry and study rooms.
For those looking for a slightly less expensive alternative, off-campus student accommodations are relatively easy to find if you start your search early. Websites like Places4Students.com andare great tools to find houses, apartments and individual rooms for rent in your area. You can also Google search the phrase “student rentals” for your city.
Campus Activities. Becoming involved on campus is one of the best things you can do for yourself while away at University or College. You can take part in varsity sports or intramurals, clubs and societies, student government, or simply volunteer in a particular department.
Some of the many benefits include: meeting new people, building character, learning new skills, gaining valuable experience, expanding your professional network, and making relationships with people who can provide references or mentorship, among others. Volunteering in an area you are passionate about not only opens doors of opportunity, but it also makes you feel good.
Financial Awards. Before going off to school, it is best to collect as much money as possible to fund your expenses while on campus. There are many different financial awards that you can get, with some being automatic and some requiring an application. When making your decision, consider how much money each school can offer you in scholarships, bursaries and grants.