How to find the university that's right for you

Know all the facts before you commit

When you're starting to think about applying to university, you need to be proactive. That means visiting campuses, speaking to current students, going to information sessions, and even looking at university's social media channels. 

If you're trying to decide between universities, here are a few tips that will help you gather all the important information.

Steps for getting to know a university

Take charge and take action

Take charge of your decision! Attending university will likely be one of the biggest, most expensive decisions you've had to make so far in your life, so don't take it lightly. 

Take advantage of opportunities and resources that let you get a feel for the universities you're considering, whether that means attending an open house, going to a university fair, or spending time comparing websites. Doing the extra work now will pay off when you end up at the school that suits you best. 

Campus tours let me really get a "feel" for the schools which I couldn't get from the brochures.

My story

The first thing I did when I started looking into schools was book campus tours at my top three universities (Waterloo, University of Toronto, and University of British Columbia). It also meant a couple of fun road trips with my parents or my friends while I got to check out my future home!  

Campus tours let me really get a "feel" for the schools which I couldn't get from the brochures alone. I also got to know the campuses and the buildings, which were all a lot bigger than my little high school. High school and university are pretty different, so make sure you're prepared for all the differences between high school and university because there are quite a few!

Information sessions... allowed me speak to professors and current students in the department.

After the campus tours, I attended information sessions for my programs. This allowed me speak to professors and current students in the department. Speaking to students who had experienced the same things really helped me learn why they chose their own schools and why I might want to go to those schools as well.

After all the excitement of travelling to different cities and going to the information sessions, I decided to follow the universities on Instagram and Facebook. This way, I would know about anything fun they were planning on campus and it helped me get a feel for university life outside of academics!

Student ambasssador giving a tour to prospective students

Know what really matters to you

Figure out what really matters to you and where you want to be. What program is the best for you? How much are the fees? There are a ton of questions that need answering. Here are a few things to consider looking into before making your final decisions.

Courses

Make sure you've researched and compared courses so you know what classes you could potentially be taking. Some programs have really awesome upper-year courses that let you travel or gain hands-on experience through various practicum and field studies.

Co-op experience

Do you want to include a co-op work experience as part of your university studies? Find out if the jobs are paid, where you might work, and how much experience you'll graduate with.

Finances

University is a huge investment and you want to get the most out of it. Research how much the fees will be each term and find out if there are any scholarships, grants, or bursaries available for you - or if you can earn money through co-op or part-time jobs. 

Accelerated programs

Some universities also have accelerated programs to help you finish your degree faster! See whether these are available and if you're eligible to take part in these programs.

Compare the experience

Location

Where the university is located will impact what activities, discounts, and offers will be available to you. This is why it's super important to book a campus tour. It won't only show you the campus but will also provide you with details about things to do off campus and around town. Make sure to thoroughly check out where you might be spending the next few years of your life! 

Get to know what kinds of clubs each school has and which are of interest to you

Students playing quiddich.

Clubs and teams

Each university has its own list of unique teams and clubs. If you're interested in a specific team, try reaching out to the coach to check out when tryouts are and talk to some current athletes. Get a feel for what the team is like and how you can make an impact through your own contributions!

Not a big sports fan? No problem. Make sure you get to know what kinds of clubs each school has and which are of interest to you. Joining a club or a team can be a great way to build relationships and make new friends.

Most universities will have a clubs day where all their clubs are showcased. Make sure to check it out and sign up for the ones you think you'll enjoy!

Post-graduation planning

Do you want to go to med school or grad school? See which schools offer Master's or PhDs in your area of interest. You may want to switch universities for your grad studies, or you may prefer to stay on a familiar campus. But either way, it's good to know your options.