How I Got Accepted to Journalism at Carleton University

Written by Jasmine Williams

While it might sound counter-intuitive, I didn’t apply to journalism because I wanted to be a journalist. I wasn’t editor of my school newspaper or head of the year book committee.

But I knew I had a passion for writing and wasn’t half bad at either. I even won a poetry competition at my high school. I just needed to figure out what kind of writer I wanted to be.

After researching, I learned Carleton University is one of the top journalism schools in the country. I knew it was competitive. But I figured, if I’m going to spend the next four years studying this subject, I should try and learn from the best.

So, once I decided on Carleton University and a few other schools as back-ups, I started preparing my application. Here’s the exact step-by-step process I used to apply to and eventually get accepted to Journalism at Carleton University.

1. Check application deadlines and requirements

Since admission requirements vary, the first thing I did was figure out what I needed to apply for Carleton’s undergraduate program specifically. Journalism doesn’t require any additional admission material like a portfolio or interview. The only prerequisites are a Grade 12 English plus your five best 4U/4M courses. And, as an Ontario high school student, I could apply online through the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC).

However, because Carleton’s Journalism program is very competitive, applicants need to have a high-grade average to be considered. The minimum cut-off range is 85-88%. It also has an application deadline of March 1. To set myself up for success, I took courses like Geography, the Writer’s Craft and Media Studies. Courses I knew I could excel in, but would also apply well to my program of choice. 

2. Apply online

Once I was ready to apply, I headed back to the OUAC website. I followed the instructions, paid my $150 application fee, and clicked ‘submit.’ Soon after, I got an email confirming that they received my application. From that point on, all I could do was wait and hope for the best. Waiting for my offer was super nerve-wracking. I tried to focus on my studies and keep busy with extracurricular activities. 

3. Receive a conditional offer of admission

Eventually, the fateful day came. I got an offer of acceptance in the mail. But it wasn’t official yet! Most offers of admission are conditional and Carleton’s Journalism program was no exception. Thanks to the solid 90% average I had when I applied, I received a generous entrance scholarship. A residence offer was also included. However, this was a conditional offer based on my midterm grades. 

Once Carleton received my final grades from OUAC, they would reassess my application to ensure that I still met the requirements. If I didn’t, they would withdraw my offer and give me an alternate offer of admission. For the Bachelor of Journalism program, this meant I had to maintain an overall average of 80% and receive a minimum final grade of 70% in English. 

Even though I was accepted to the program, I couldn’t just put up my feet and coast until the end of the year. If I let my grades drop too much, I would lose my spot in the program.

4. Accept the offer of admission

Since Carleton Journalism was my first choice, accepting the offer wasn’t a hard decision. Plus, Carleton’s renewable entrance scholarship certainly didn’t hurt either! However, since the offer was conditional, I knew my application journey wasn’t over yet. I needed to maintain my grades and complete the other requirements for my high school diploma like my requisite 40 hours of volunteer work. 

I also had to apply for residence, plan my courses, sign up for summer orientation, get my student card and other registration activities. Even though I still had a conditional offer, it all started to feel real. I was just a few months away from being a real university student!

5. Receive a confirmed offer of admission

Once I finished my classes and exams, I had to work hard to ensure my final grades were good enough to confirm my acceptance.

While I’ll admit, my grades did drop a bit from the 90% average I had when I applied, I still maintained an above-80% average. Therefore, I was officially accepted into Carleton’s journalism program! My classes were complete and the huge weight of my conditional admission offer off of my shoulders. I could focus on enjoying my summer before preparing for my big move to Ottawa. 

If you’re dead-set on studying journalism at Carleton and want to secure your spot in this highly competitive program, here are my top application tips:

Pick your grade 12 courses strategically 

Since Carleton’s Journalism application is based purely on your grades, you need to make sure you pick courses that you can not just pass, but excel in. In other words, try to get the tough requirements out of the way by Grade 11 so you don’t have to worry too much about your grades when you apply. 

Keep yourself busy during the waiting period

I get it. That post-application limbo period can be super nerve-wracking. How you’ll spend the next four to five years of your life all depends on this one decision. NBD. The next few weeks might be a little stressful so make sure you have plenty of things to do to keep yourself busy. For instance, you can take up a new hobby or lead an initiative for a school club or committee you’re on. Making sure you have other things to focus on can help keep you from clicking refresh on that application page 10 times a day. 

Don’t succumb to ‘senioritis’

If you’re not familiar, this condition afflicts Grade 12 students once they’ve applied to university or college and realize that the pressure is off. After all, once you’ve submitted your application. You don’t have to worry about your grades, right? Wrong. Since Carleton’s  Journalism program has conditional offers, you could lose your spot in the program if you let your grades slip. My advice? Relax a little, since you only need to maintain an overall 80% average, but don’t drop the ball too much. 

If you’re interested in pursuing journalism, check out the Top 5 Entrance Scholarships for Journalism Students in Canada.