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4 Ways to Choose Your Future University

10/14/2015 11:10 EDT | Updated 10/14/2016 05:12 EDT
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Student using cell phone

Grade 12 is a stressful year. In Ontario alone, students last year submitted more than 400,000 undergraduate university applications. But shockingly, 38 per cent of these students either switch or leave, according to a report co-authored by the Higher Education Strategy Associates.

With personalized university rankings, student reviews, and admissions support, UniversityHub.ca's sole mission is to help students make the best possible university choice for them. That's why we've also compiled a list of the top four ways to help you choose your future university.

1. Seriously, Visit the Campus

You wouldn't buy a house before you gave it an inspection, would you? Then why would you invest four years of your life, and -- in some cases -- 100 thousand dollars (excluding any income forgone) towards a university you have yet to visit? Touring a campus sounds like an inconvenience, but it's not. You know how we make an opinion on people in the first 10 seconds? It's the same thing with university campus. We take in the millions of data points our senses can handle -- sights, sounds, even smells -- and form a conscious opinion on it. You see the small things that can make a big difference -- the quality of the classrooms, the liveliness of the culture, the food at the cafeteria, or the state of the residences, tour the campus before you make any decision with university.

2. Attend a University Fair (e.g. Student Life Expo, Oct 17th-18th)

University fairs for prospective university students are like outlet malls for frequent shoppers -- in just a few hundred steps, you can meet current students and admissions reps from dozens of universities. Don't worry if you've already missed the big fairs like the Ontario Universities' Fair (OUF) -- look for upcoming ones in your area, such as the Student Life Expo, held October 17th-18th in Toronto. Unlike the OUF, this fair features universities from all over Canada, including Acadia (Nova Scotia), Bishop's (Quebec), Concordia (Quebec), Mount Royal (Alberta), Quest (BC), and more. The expo is even giving away a cash prize of $5,000 for a lucky student's future tuition bill! Check out the expos offered in your area.

3. Speak to Students & Alumni

The first thing you do before you book a nice restaurant or hotel is look at customer reviews, right? So why not do the same with your university research? So few people speak with current students and alumni -- specifically those from the program they are considering. Current students, particularly those in third and fourth year, can provide a more transparent -- sometimes even critical viewpoint -- on a university because they have already been through the 'honeymoon' phase in first and second year.

Alumni are also invaluable resources to connect with, because they can tell you the most important thing: if they landed a job. You could connect to these folks directly through friends and family; but other avenues to pursue are LinkedIn and our site (UniversityHub.ca). We have hundreds of reviews from current students and recent alumni, which you can filter based on specific criteria that might match you (e.g. student athletes, LGBTQ, home-schooler, gender, etc.).

4. Don't Rush Into Anything - Take a Gap Year

Can't decide on what to study? You're better off taking the year, saving up money, and figuring out what you really want to do through a structured gap year experience. Pressure from parents, peers, and schools might make it difficult for you to get support for a year off, but don't carry on despite your underlying concerns. Address these concerns before you go to school, so you arrive more focused, mature, and motivated than your peers. Gap years are on the rise in Canada, with unique programs offered like the Global Leadership Academy (GLA) and MyGapYear.

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