Thursday, 3 November 2011

An Insider's Guide to Navigating the University Application Process

If you’re in grade twelve, and considering applying to university, you might be starting to panic right about now. People are throwing dates, averages, admissions requirements and cut-offs at you as if the next four years of your life are imminent. This can be scary. Don’t worry. Breathe in and out slowly and don’t get overwhelmed. There are people that can help you. 

1. Your guidance counsellor. You know that office that you’ve never heard of in the hallway you’ve never been down? That’s probably your guidance department. In grade 12, when I found myself floundering for answers and uncertain about what my next steps should be, I went there, hesitant and not sure which questions to ask. They helped me focus my search and gave me the basic knowledge about scholarships, university application deadlines and what I needed to do next. (Insider tip: guidance counsellors love prepared students so go in with something; anything that will help them help you.) 

2. Your Ontario Universities Fair. This year, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted universities from all over Ontario, and on your way there you could have even encountered other universities from all over the country. It is the best place to find out more information about schools you’ve heard of, and even some you haven’t. Upstairs, there are rooms assigned for each university that allow you to sit down, listen and absorb all the general information about the school. (Insider tip: those at the York University presentation got goodies for participating) Downstairs, there are booths set up for all the universities. There you can ask university representatives questions about the application process, the ins and outs of university and what is so great about their school. (“Unbiased” insider tip: The York University booth was gorgeous this year and the Glendon campus representatives are very nice and helpful so never hesitate to ask them anything.) 

3. Your computer. December. January. February. The months might seem to start rushing by faster than you can keep track of them and before you know it, the deadline for something crucial might have passed you by. Surprisingly, the internet can be used for more than instant messaging and Facebook. There are plenty of sites that provide reminders about what the general deadlines are for applying to school and for more specific deadlines you can always check out university websites. If you’re looking specifically for universities in Ontario eINFO is a good place to start: For that long December/January period, the computer was my best friend. I spent hours combing through sites for scholarships and university information and, as a result, felt considerably less overwhelmed than when I started. 

4. Your telephone. Let’s say you went to the Ontario Universities Fair and came back with even more questions than you started with. Or, your guidance counsellor helped you focus your interest on one specific school, Glendon perhaps? Call the university in question. Glendon’s office of Student Recruitment & Applicant Relations will help you with programs, admissions, financial information and more than you’d imagine. They can provide you with answers to questions you never even thought of asking. I am pretty sure I called so much they knew the sound of my voice before I had even enrolled. 

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