By Blanka Stepankova
Admittedly, the process of applying to the right PSI can be confusing and difficult. However, during my own experience of applying, I found some key points that can make the decision easier.
Ah yes, the main focus of your education: the program. Now, if you don’t know what you wish to major or minor in yet, that’s totally ok! Just start by deciding which faculty (Arts, Science, Engineering, Kinesiology, etc.) that you are going in! Many applications often offer an opportunity to leave the major or minor undeclared. It shouldn’t impact your application. In any case, it never hurts to look at national ratings of the faculty/program you wish to enter. Or ask locally — find someone who can share their experience and opinion. Additionally, checking mandatory courses, as well as the electives offered, can help determine if they fit your interests once you are further down the line of applying.
2. Location, Location, Location
Do you like the layout and size of the city where the school is located? Is the area considered safe? How is the weather? Do you prefer bright sunny days or cooler ones? Thinking about the geographical aspects of the region can be important to consider. However, one should also think about the modes of public transportation offered in the town/city, or if that won’t be an issue if you are bringing your own vehicle. When making the decision personally, I realized I preferred snow to rain and a larger city to a smaller one.
As most of us aren’t millionaires, it goes without saying that tuition, residence, and food costs can seem daunting. Comparing the costs between different post-secondary institutions and how they align with your wishes (room set-up, food plans, etc.) can be a very telling way to rule out any places that just don’t make the cut. In regards to residence living, it is helpful to consider a school’s dorms or a student rental in the area.
Some of us like the idea of living a comfortable distance away from our home town. Deciding how often you wish to visit family and what travel costs are associated with it should be kept in mind. (You can also see if the PSI you have your sights on offers Fly Home or Travel Home awards.)
5. Keep The Applying Process Simple
Saying no to stress after listing all these factors seems hypocritical since nervousness is inevitable. However, ruling by process of elimination and thinking only 1 to 2 years in advance can often be a healthier mindset (instead of thinking 4 to 8 years into the future). No one has a crystal ball, at least I don’t, because plans often change and develop over time. This is completely ok. Switching to a new program or a whole new PSI mid-way through your schooling can seem impossible; however, most courses have equivalents across the board. So you can pick up where you left off with relative ease.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to apply to 3, 5, or even 10 schools! (Just consider application fees, too). It never hurts to get your name in, so when the time comes, you have options. Furthermore, have a discussion with your high school counsellor or, yes, even your parents. They can enlighten everyone and make the process much smoother.
Also, for more ideas, keep reading A Big Sister’s Guide For Applying To Post-Secondary School.