What I wish I knew before applying to university

Zahra, Engineering ambassador.

Written by Zahra, student

We sat down with seven student ambassadors to find out what they wish they had known when they were applying to university. We hope this helps you on your own journey to finding the right fit for you.

I wish I knew that picking a university was about more than just school, i.e., a place to pursue my academics. I wish I knew that my choice would impact so many other people around me who mattered, like my family and friends.

Only after coming to university did I realize this decision influenced many opportunities that would be available to me, such as where I could travel/go, sport or athletic facilities I could use, people I would meet, clubs I could join, and I could keep going on and on.

Of course, which university you choose also impact things like the professors you'll learn from, how great of a research reputation they have, and other important things like job prospects, co-op work experience, scholarships, and bursaries. All I’m saying is to not lose sight of the behind-the-scenes stuff you may be taking for granted day to day.

Aujas, Environmant ambassador.


One thing I wish I knew before applying to university is that there are many people who are ready to help and guide me and all I had to do was ask. It would have been great to know many things such as unique program options that would suit me (I never knew about Geomatics until much later) and that attending different university events (like open houses) is really helpful.

Clare, math ambassador.


I wish I had known in my last year of high school to research all features of a university before applying. When I applied to different schools, I only really thought about the programs I would apply to, and not about the other important elements of a university, like clubs and societies. Luckily, I ended up at a school that I love, but I still wish I had known to research a school, not just a program.

Simran, business ambassador.


I wish I knew that university is not like what it's portrayed as in movies. Yes, it is super fun, but it can also get highly stressful. However, it is important to not lose focus of your goals and take it one day at a time. Eventually you'll realize that it was all worth it—both the fun and the not so fun.

Consider these other resources to help you learn more about university

Nathan, Health ambassador.


I wish I knew that not everything you learn is in the classroom. When applying, take advantage of the resources available to you by asking about work and volunteer opportunities that can give you valuable experiences outside the classroom!

Jocelyn, Science ambassador.


The one thing that I wish I knew before applying to university is that you don’t need to know what you want to do after you finish your degree. In fact, it’s totally okay to have no idea what exactly you want to study. I have known so many people who have switched programs (more than once!) and they’ve been happier because of it.

Lean back, enjoy the ride, and get ready for an exciting chapter in your life!

Switching programs doesn’t necessarily mean that you will graduate any later than you were originally supposed to. Even upon graduating, a lot of people still don’t know what they want to do. The point is, you don’t have to decide on your career path while you’re trying to choose a program to study. Apply to a couple of programs that you think you'll be interested in and that you’ll enjoy learning about (disclaimer: you probably won’t like every single course that you take).

In my experience, if you’ve been putting in the work, things will often fall into place and it may not have been anything that you ever planned for. So, lean back, enjoy the ride, and get ready for an exciting chapter in your life!

Eric, Arts ambassador.


I wish I knew what it would be like going to university. High school can only do so much to get you ready. So getting an idea of what I could expect at university would have really helped prepare me for what I was heading into.

I wish I had taken advantage of all the information provided by universities and spoken to students in my program to find out what their experiences are like.

Still have a few questions about student life, programs, co-op, and support? Just ask a current student!

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