Top Tips for Choosing Your School

By University of Waterloo Modified on September 11, 2019

10 things to consider when making your big decision.

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Two University of Waterloo students smile broadly, having chosen the right school.

Choosing which university to go to can be difficult. There are so many factors to weigh, and you may not even know which factors you should consider! To help you make this big decision with confidence, here are some things to think about before making your choice.

1. Academics

  • Which universities offer the program you're interested in?
  • What high school courses do you need to take?
  • What grades do you need to have to be accepted?

2. Location

  • How far from home do you want to go?
  • If you have to travel by plane, how close is the nearest airport? How easy is it to get to the airport?
  • Do you want to live in a busy city or something smaller and quieter?

3. Campus look and feel

  • Do you want something clustered together or something spread across a vast campus?
  • Do you want a big school where you can meet someone new every day or do you want to see familiar faces any time you're on campus?
  • Do you want a more modern campus or something with an historic feel?

To help you get a sense of the campus look and feel, we recommend you take a campus tour! Here are some questions to make the most of your campus tour.

4. Activities on and off campus

  • What kinds of events can you attend on campus?
  • Are there clubs and sports teams that interest you?
  • How easy is it to get involved?
  • What kinds of events happen in the city?
  • Are there fun things to do nearby or do you have to travel far to have a good time?
  • Are there places to practice your faith?

5. Student vibe

  • Are the students who go there proud of their school? Do they have school spirit?
  • What balance of fun and studious do you want?

6. Transit

  • How easy is it to get around?
  • What is the cost to get around?
  • Is there a transit pass included with tuition fees?
  • If you have a car, is there somewhere to park? Is it easy to drive around the city?

7. Housing options

  • What are the on-campus residences like?
  • If you want to live off campus, is it easy to find a place to live nearby?
  • What are the costs of living on and off campus?
  • How much does a meal plan cost?
  • Are there grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks nearby?

8. Food

  • How diverse is the food selection?
  • Do current students enjoy the food?
  • Are dietary restrictions accommodated?
  • What are the cafeteria hours?

9. Affordability

  • How much is tuition?
  • What scholarships exist?
  • Are there any opportunities for paid co-ops or internships?

10. Study abroad opportunities

  • Is studying abroad something you hope to do? Are study abroad opportunities available at the school? Are they available for the program you're considering?

We hope taking these factors into consideration will help you narrow down your prospective university options and choose a school that's right for you. If you find yourself hard-pressed to choose, read our article on what to do when you can't decide on a program, and before you apply, check out what current students wish they knew before applying to university.