12 questions to ask before you apply to university

Big question mark written on blank paper

King warrior Written by special contributor 

As your senior year kicks into high gear and you start to research potential post-secondary options, there’s likely a LOT of information coming at you from all directions.

But there’s no need to sweat it! Keeping a clear head about what information you need, where to find that information, will help you sort through your options and identify which schools you're interested in.

Questions about university to research in advance

There are lots of ways to find info about the universities or colleges you’re exploring, and the good news is, most of it can be found online fairly easily. By doing some of the more straightforward research up front, you can use your time at open houses more effectively. Here’s a list of questions that can be answered with a simple web search.

Two students researching on a laptop.

Does this school have my program(s)?

It’s okay if you don’t have your program of choice nailed down yet, but it’s helpful to identify at least a few you’re interested in before starting your research. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a school, make plans to live in residence with your best friend, and contact the varsity coach about tryouts, only to find out they don’t have nursing (or engineering, or history, or geography…)!

Not sure where to start? Check out websites like SchoolFinder and Ontario Universities' Info to see lists of which programs are offered at which universities.

What are their admission requirements?

Admission requirements vary based on the school and program(s) of interest. It's essential for you to know what grades you should be working towards and which courses are mandatory, before you submit your applications.

Doing this homework ahead of time can save you some disappointment when admissions decisions are made. It also allows you to focus your time on schools and programs that will help you achieve your career goals.


How much does it all cost?

Education is an investment, and there are significant costs associated with it — tuition, fees, textbooks, residence; plus the money you’d normally spend on food, entertainment, clothes, etc. Universities should have cost estimates for these expenses listed online, but you can also take advantage of resources like Waterloo’s budget calculator to help you plan.

Other questions to consider researching

  • How far is this university from home (and how much would it cost to get home)?
  • Are there supplementary admission requirements such as an essay, interview, portfolio, or audition?
  • Is residence guaranteed in first year?

Questions to ask at an open house

As you start to research universities, you'll notice that many will be offering online and in-person events like open houses and live webinars. It's a great idea to head into those opportunities prepared with a list of questions in order to maximize your time with university representatives and really get a sense of what each school has to offer.

General information booth at fall open house.

What’s it like to be a student at your university?

The stuff that happens outside of the classroom is a huge part of the student experience. From the size of the city, to student clubs, to mental health supports, to athletics, there are many variables that will impact your time on campus.

Asking direct questions about the features you want will help to ensure that the institution you choose has everything you’re looking for. Plus, many university and college reps are alumni or current students, so they can share their own experiences and recommendations.

What unique opportunities does my program provide?

Are you looking for co-op or internship opportunities? How about courses that take you outside of the classroom? Do you want to do an exchange in your upper years, or spend a summer volunteering in another country?

Most universities offer countless opportunities to add some experience to your degree — so if this is something that’s important to you, make sure you take the time to find out what exciting prospects could await you!


What can I do with a degree from this program?

For many students, post-secondary education is a gateway to something bigger, whether that’s a master’s degree, a professional program, or a career they’ll love.

Whether you have a dream job in mind, or you’re choosing your undergraduate program based purely on a passion for the subject, it’s helpful to know what opportunities your degree might provide for the future.

Other questions to ask

  • What can I do to improve my chances of being admitted?
  • What’s unique about the university?
  • What’s the city like?

Connecting with Waterloo representatives

Waterloo staff will be visiting hundreds of high schools across the globe this fall through online presentations, in-person events, and webinars. Check out our events below, and consider attending one of them!

Guided campus tour.

  • Hello Warrior
    Learn more about the journey to university with our hosts Denis and Kristin as they discuss next steps after applying, financing your education, student life, and more!
  • Tours, events, and info sessions
    Join us for campus tours (in-person and virtual), as well as open houses. Attend presentations about Waterloo's faculties, admissions, co-op, student services, and more.

Take these questions about university with you

Need help keeping track of all this info? Download or screenshot these questions on your phone and use them at your next open house.




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