5 Questions You Should Ask Before Applying to University or College [5min Read]

Postsecondary education is so much more than what happens inside the classroom. Yes, your academics are ultimately number one, but university / college life is also about exploring your interests, growing your network, setting and achieving new goals, and perhaps stepping outside of your comfort zone to do so.
In order to grow and succeed personally, academically and professionally, it is essential that you choose a university or college that will fit all of your needs. We’ve compiled a list of 5 questions to ask yourself before deciding which university or college is the best fit for you.

1. What is campus life like?

This may not be the first question that comes to mind when choosing a university or college, but we think it is one of the most important. Whether you’re living at home with your parents, renting an apartment with friends or staying in residence, the majority of your time will be spent on campus – so you may as well enjoy it!
Before you start your pursuit of postsecondary paths, try to picture your future self on a campus.

Is the campus big? Small?
And what about the student population? What size is it?
Is the campus in a city filled with hustle and bustle? Or is it more rural and quaint?
Is it a quick drive home? Or on the other side of the country?
Are you living on campus? Or off?
Are there opportunities to meet new people? Join new groups? Make new groups?

Start to picture the life you want to live outside of the classroom, because your mental well-being will directly affect your academic life inside the classroom. Once you start piecing together this puzzle, you’ll have a starting point for your postsecondary search.

2. How much will tuition cost?

Yes, your education is a major investment and we’ve all heard someone somewhere say “you can’t put a price on education,” but you have enough to worry about throughout your studies without finances coming into play. In Canada, all public universities adhere to Provincial and Federal guidelines in terms of quality assurance. This means that any Canadian public university (no matter the cost), will give you a quality education.
So, before choosing a university, take note of your financial situation and ask questions like:

How am I paying for my tuition? Parents? Savings? Student Loan?
Can I manage working and studying at the same time? Do I want to?
What are the conditions of student loans in my province (or state)? Do I qualify?
If I get a student loan, how long will it take to pay off? And when do I have to start making payments?

When determining a tuition rate you are comfortable with, be sure to also take into consideration other fees and costs such as rent, books, and any technology such as laptops, tablets, etcetera. Many universities offer tuition and fees calculators so you can get a better idea of the full cost of your studies.
If you have your heart set on a university that is out of your comfort zone in terms of tuition and fees, remember to look for scholarship and financial aid options!

3. What programs are offered?

If you’re thinking about applying to a university or college, it’s likely that you already have some idea of what area of study interests you or will help you achieve your professional goals. If you don’t, we advise you to do some research, speak with your school’s guidance counsellor, or maybe even take a career aptitude test (it’s a starting point, right?).
Once you know a field of study that will satisfy either your interests or your further academic / career goals, make sure that the institution you’re researching offers programs or courses in this area. If not, is there a similar major offered? What minors are offered? Sometimes your interests can be satisfied through a creative major and minor combination.
If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to reach out to the University’s representatives.

4. What are the opportunities outside of the classroom?

As we’ve already mentioned, there is so much more to your postsecondary studies than what happens inside the classroom. Take the next 3-4 years (or more if you’re studying part-time) to explore and grow academically, professionally and personally. Set goals and conquer them!
In today’s world where employers are looking for 2-3+ years of work experience when hiring for entry level positions, hands-on learning should be an essential part of your university or college endeavour. So, ask yourself questions like: Are there co-op opportunities? Research opportunities? Work-study programs? And if so, are they in my area of study?
Other questions think about are whether or not you’d like to participate in a study abroad program, join or create a society, or sign up for volunteer opportunities. When you think of all the possibilities, it’s really quite exciting!

5. What student supports are there?

Although there is SO much to see, learn and do throughout your postsecondary journey, your academics are why you are here. Before choosing a university or college, an important question to ask is: What supports will I need to succeed?
Perhaps you’re passionate about studying Sciences, but do not feel confident in your math skills. Or, you’re interested in the Arts and Social Sciences, but have never quite figured out the trick to writing a strong essay. In both of these cases, and others similar, you might want to look into institutions with strong academic support services such as academic tutoring, writing centres and accessibility centres.
So there you have it; five questions to ask yourself before applying to any university or college! They may not be quick or easy questions to answer, but they will be beneficial in finding your true fit!