Application Strategies for Canadian Colleges and Universities
Having a plan is key to getting the most out of your post-secondary applications.
It's application season, and that means stress — but it doesn't have to! If you're worried about applying to schools and getting accepted, don't panic. Take a moment to breathe, and read on for some smart application strategies.
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Chances are you have a strong idea which school you'd like to attend. Maybe it's got a great academic reputation, is close to home, or it's where all your friends are going. In many application systems — like Ontario's, for example — you'll only have a finite number of program choices before you need to pay even more just to apply. Get your money's worth by thinking realistically about your applications.
It's important to be strategic. Don't run the risk of getting waitlisted for all of your choices: have a backup plan.
Your "dream" school
When you're applying, by all means, shoot for that school you really want, even if getting accepted might be a stretch. Think of this as your "dream" school: the one you really want to get into. It may be a moonshot, but you'll never know if you don't try.
Your "target" schools
Be sure to balance your first choice with a couple of others you're more likely to be accepted to. These are your "target" schools. Your grades should fall well within the sweet spot to get accepted. Only choose "target" schools you'd be happy to attend, though!
Your "backup" school
You should also consider applying to a "backup" school, which is a college or university that you're confident you can get into, should all else fail. (You may hear this called a "safety" school in some cases!)
This should be a school where your grades are well above the minimum threshold. If by some chance you're shut out of both your "dream" and "target" schools, at least you'll have a foot in the door.
Don't feel bad if you don't get into your first choice. Life is unpredictable, and you can build a strong foundation for your career almost anywhere. In fact, you might be surprised at how much you enjoy your time at your second choice (or third, or fourth...). Many students transfer schools throughout their academic careers, too!
Weighing your choices based on scholarship opportunities
Another factor to consider is what sort of scholarships and bursaries you might qualify for. Different schools will offer different awards programs, especially around "entrance" scholarships (for students coming out of high school and into college or university), so shop around a bit before making a decision!
Let schools compete to bring you on as a student by checking out their scholarship opportunities.
To help you on your way, we've written guides to several common application portals:
Good luck with your applications! When you're done, check out "You've Applied: Now What?"
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