• Shaun Wang

How to Pick the Right Place to Go

For myself and approximately one-third of the student population at Citadel, post-secondary education is already stressful. Many universities/colleges have been asking for entry and scholarship applications non-stop. You have so many options; you’ve never been freer in your life. Deciding where you end up for the next couple of years is so important with regards to your further education and experience. Although I am currently in the tornado of applications, I want to outline some of the major factors that will affect your post-secondary education.

Financing is possibly the most overwhelming aspect of this stage of your life. As displayed by StatsCan, undergraduate tuition fees have been increasing. This makes it even more difficult for students to go where they want. With incomes stagnating and jobs sparse, the gap between the amount of money one can earn and one needs to pay becomes much wider. For students nowadays, this is terrible news. Your summer job will most likely not be able to pay off the tuition.

This large economic burden is stressful and heartbreaking to students worldwide, however there are many opportunities to help your case. Scholarships, bursaries and loans seem like the prime options for aiding your post-secondary journey. From my experience, you should prepare to apply immediately in your grade 12 year for the big, general, nationwide scholarships. These include the Loran, the TD and the Schulich scholarships. These are outstanding opportunities to demonstrate and show your abilities as a student and a leader. Although academics are a portion of these scholarships, your involvement with the school and community is more important to their respective boards. Furthermore, bursaries and other scholarships will appear later during the year so you should be aware and ready.

Lastly, government loans are also a viable and resourceful option for many students. These helpful assistance programs will not have any interest until six months after you graduate.

It’s becoming harder and harder for students to be able to fund for their education. StatsCan predicted that a student beginning their university degree (4 years) will need $75 000. This dark, ever-increasing financial gap has some light in the tunnel in the forms of scholarships, bursaries and loans. When deciding for your further education, be aware of your financial limits.

Secondly, the quality of education that you are receiving is obviously a large factor as well…duh! You may be intrigued by the grand, prestigious universities that have historical legacies. Their research and resource filled atmospheres seem so inviting and promising. Every year, an endless realm of possibilities is what is advertised to grade 12 students. However, once you start talking to people across the school board, you see that there are flaws. These relate directly to undergraduate studies as many of the top universities focus all their resources for graduate students. This is perhaps why Mount Allison, a relatively small sized university in New Brunswick, is vouched as the best undergraduate university in Canada, according to Maclean’s rankings last year, rather than UBC, McGill or U of T. This graduate focus leaves the undergraduates scrambling to get a hold of any piece of equipment available. Furthermore, large universities evidently have a larger population therefore there is more of a competition to maximize the utilization of technology. You will have to be determined and self-driven to be able to utilize said resources.

On the contrary, some small universities have not enough technology available to fulfill your study ambitions. However, you must decide for yourself what type of university interests you. Perhaps online courses or travelling worldwide suits your needs. A bulk of your research when looking at post-secondary facilities should be the education itself.

Lastly, the location is sometimes a deal-breaker. There are several categories that we could separate communities into. For the people who are attracted to the bright lights, a large, urban city may be the most appealing destination. In a downtown location, the thriving atmosphere of the city would be desirable. You would be close to shops, restaurants and other facilities. One of the main cons of this experience would be the difficulty to remain productive. The distraction of the bright lights and hustle is so prominent and inviting. Careful with spending your time; it’s non-refundable. Next up would be the opposite of a big city, the small-town feel. Perhaps in a more rural area, these locations do not offer a wide selection of amusement, however they often feel more comfortable and cozier than bigger cities. Another benefit would be that the school is interconnected by culture and tradition rather than money and grades. The connectedness of the school community is much closer allowing for school pride to flourish. This also allows for a greater sense of security and safety. If you want to be a part of a vibrant, close community, perhaps a small town may work for you.

So once the paper and pen start pushing, take a break and relax. Think about what’s right for you and your family. There is no need to rush into anything, however applying to a variety of universities allow for more options down the road. It’s incredible to see how fast your last years of high school pass. In a blink, you’ll be tossing that hat and beginning a new life. Good luck!