Choosing the Right University Program for You

With so many choices, how do you know which program is the right one?

Hi! My name is Matthew, and I’m an upper-year student in the Honours Arts and Business program at the University of Waterloo. I have worked in the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) as the Marketing and Recruitment Associate in my previous co-op work terms and have recently returned as a part-time employee. I recently wrote a blog that provided some tips about applying to university, but I wanted to expand on that and talk about how you can choose the right university and program for you. 

Pathway within the UW campus during fall season

What is your career goal?

This is the first thing you might consider when choosing a university or a program. After all, that’s why you are going to university in the first place—to get a job, and hopefully, one you like. While you check out programs to see if they’ll get you to where you want to be, make sure you review the alumni webpages! Seeing and reading about what graduates are up to will give you a sneak peek at some of the careers you might be able to get into after school, which will help you determine if it's the program for you.

What is the campus like?

When you start university, we’ll be back on campus (hopefully). That means you’ll be spending four (or more) years on campus, so choose carefully! Pick a campus that you vibe with. I personally love the University of Waterloo’s campus but enjoyed visiting other campuses around Ontario, and I recommend you do the same to find one you love! That also leads me to my next point…

Are there any open houses you can attend?

As of writing this blog, in-person open houses aren’t able to happen, but virtual ones are still great! Not only do you get to explore the campus, but you have a chance to ask people questions about the school and the program you’re interested in. I went to a couple of open houses as a prospective student, and I was able to learn more about the majors within my program, as well as campus life. Open Houses are a great way to meet other people as well and start making friends before you even begin!

Register for UWaterloo's Fall Open House!

How can you customize your degree?

When choosing your program, take a look at the opportunities you have to customize your experience. This can come in the form of majors, minors, or interesting electives you can take. Some schools might have unique ways to customize your degree as well, such as SAF’s Career Specializations. Make sure you take a look at all of this, so you can finally choose what program is right for you.

View the full list of Career Specializations

Finally, make the choice!

You’ll have to make a choice, which can be scary. Make sure to take all of the factors into account; where you want to end up, where you want to spend the next four or five years, and what pathway is the most interesting to you. When considering all of this together, you should be able to make a good list of universities and programs you want to apply to.

And that’s that! Choosing the right university and program is really about doing your research and then making a judgment call because, at the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone.

Best of luck in the application process!

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