Beginner's Guide to Choosing a University
Learn more about what you should consider when applying to schools.
University applications are right around the corner but don't worry, I’m here to give you a guide to help you choose the right university for you.
Research program options
Become knowledgeable about the programs and schools you think would be best for you. This can be the hardest step, but knowing which program(s) you are interested in will make narrowing down your choices much easier.
Once you know which program(s) you think you will apply for, research which schools are known for these programs or have any unique specializations or majors that interest you. Not all schools offer every program, so this will help narrow your focus a little bit.
Also, seeing which schools offer highly rated programs will hopefully give you a handful of schools to choose from. For example, Ontario Tech University is ranked third in Ontario and ninth in Canada as one of the best universities to study engineering at. We are also listed as the number one undergraduate university in Canada for social science and humanities grants.
Visit the campus
Once you narrow down the schools and programs you're interested in taking, it’s time to plan a visit.
Going to a school’s open house or on a campus tour is crucial. Choosing where you want to study is not all about academics. You are going to live there (or nearby) for a few years, so you need to like the campus as well.
We also offer a self-guided 360° tour that allows you to look around campus and get a full view as if you were there in person.
Consider more than just academics
Academics are the main thing to consider when choosing the right university for you, but as I said, it isn't the only consideration. You’ll be spending a significant amount of time at the school over the next four or so years, so it's important to have other things you like about it.
When you’re visiting the campus, ask about what sort of athletic programs they have, what their student clubs are like, what average class sizes are and what food options they have (AKA how many Tim Hortons are there and is there a Starbucks?), etc. Be sure to gather the information that will help you answer the most important question of all: Can I see myself going here?
Don’t put too much emphasis on location
Location, location, location. Unlike houses, this isn’t always the most important thing when choosing a university.
If you live on campus or nearby, you will want to have things to do when you get some downtime and ideally, not have to travel too far. Many institutions offer transit passes, like Ontario Tech’s U-Pass, to help you with your commute, which opens up your options if you don't have a vehicle.
Our university is surrounded by a diverse community with plenty of fun activities to enjoy. Take advantage of your student U-Pass to have lunch at the Parkwood Estate Mansion, take a stroll through 27 km of parks and trails, or stop by Fiesta Week to enjoy foods from around the world!
Look for money
Scholarships and bursaries can really help when you’re in university dealing with costs of tuition, rent, food and extracurricular activities. Better yet, these types of financial assistance do not have to be paid back.
Ontario Tech offers various major application-based scholarships — ranging from $12,000 to $72,000 — to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and community involvement. There are scholarships available for both domestic and international students.
Ontario Tech also offers financial aid to both international and domestic students, scholarships that don’t require high grades, and awards of recognition for your hard work before, and during university.
Apply to multiple schools
Dream big and apply to your dream school if you have one, but always have some backups.
Apply to multiple schools that you could potentially see yourself attending, just to make sure you will get to go somewhere. Plus, an acceptance letter is a great feeling, so getting multiple doesn’t hurt.
Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) gives you three applications for the base fee of $150 and you can always pay for more ($50 each).
I hope you have a great time on this new and exciting journey of choosing a university, applying, and waiting for your acceptance letters! Everyone always says this time goes by really quickly, but it's hard to believe them when it seems like four years from now is so far away. Time will go by faster than you think, so be sure to appreciate each step of the way.
Learn more about Ontario Tech University