Weighing the Right School and Program for You

By University of Waterloo Modified on December 20, 2023
Tags : Academics | Campus Life | High School

With so many universities and programs out there, how do you decide the best one for you?

 Weighing the Right School and Program for You

If you’re planning to go to university, you might feel overwhelmed by all the possible options. If you take your time to research and plan, you might be able to find where you fit in!

Choosing what to study

Deciding what you want to study for the next few years of your life is a big decision, and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration.

What interests you?

Think about the classes you’ve taken in high school, the extracurricular activities you’ve participated in, and the volunteer roles you’ve been a part of. Is there something that stuck with you? Maybe these experiences helped you realize that there’s a problem out there that you’d like to tackle, and you want to study something in university that will help you do that.

It might seem like you have too many interests to narrow down. The great thing about university is that you can explore your different interests in different ways. Whether it’s a double major, a minor, or a specialization, you can customize your degree to suit your passions. Some universities might even have programs that combine your interests, like science and business.

What experiences do you want?

Choosing what to study is more than just the course content. Universities offer different opportunities for the same program or subject. If you want to graduate with work experience, then it’s important to investigate programs that offer co-op or internships. Want to take your education across the globe? Consider a program that offers study abroad options. There are other factors to consider as well, like research opportunities, the learning options provided, and the degree you’ll get at the end.

Choosing where to study

You’ve decided what you want to study, and you’ve narrowed down the list of schools that offer the things you’re looking for. How do you decide where to go?


One of the biggest factors in choosing a university is where it’s located. While everyone has different preferences, there are a few general things to keep in mind.

  • What type of city do you prefer? Large and bustling with activity, or smaller and more relaxed?
  • How far is it from home? Being close to home (maybe even living there during university) or getting a taste of independence can be a big determining factor for some students. You should also note how easy it is to get home if that’s important to you.
  • Do you know anyone going to the same university? Maybe you want people you’re familiar with there, or maybe you want to see completely different faces.
  • What is the cost of living in the city? Rent, food costs, and transit costs all add up, so you want to make sure that those numbers work for you.


The campus look and feel might be important to you, so you may want to take some campus tours to see which ones stand out to you. Aside from that, things like the clubs and services offered, the residence options, and even the food options will help you narrow down your school of choice.


How much university costs plays a big role in what school you go to. Take a look at the tuition prices, as well as the scholarships offered by the school that you might be able to get. Determining the cost of university and what resources are available to offset that cost will play a big role in choosing where you study.

You might not check every box on your list, but with time and research, you can definitely find a university where you fit in. Good luck!

Want to learn more? Here are 12 questions to ask before you apply to university

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