Are you one of the many students anxiously waiting for university acceptance letters to arrive? How do you make sure that your top choice is right for you?
Sharron and Mike McIntyre, authors of University Matters, are this week's experts (bios below).
Submit your questions to them now, and check back later for their responses.
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Q: Some of my friends already have acceptance letters plus scholarship offers from universities. Isn't it too early for offers to be going out? Or is that only some universities? I'm a great student but am now feeling like I'm not a top choice and its discouraging. When can I realistically expect to hear?
A: Yes, some universities have already issued acceptances and offered scholarships, so it is not too early for offers to be going out. However, we do not know for a fact that this is the case for every university you might have applied to. Also, each university has its own strategy for offering scholarships and issuing letters of offer. The strategies vary so much it is impossible to figure out where you “rank” by comparing your experience to the experiences of others.
When can you expect to hear from the universities? Its really hard to say; it depends on a lot of factors that neither you nor we have much information about. We know it’s hard, but this is one of those times when patience pays off.
On a more general note, seeing others receive acceptances and scholarship offers can be discouraging, but all of us have to be careful about depending on the approval of others, even universities, for satisfaction about ourselves. It is a fact of life that all of us who do so are bound to be disappointed. A more constructive approach is to do the best we can at everything we do and take satisfaction in the fact we have done so - in other words, set and meet your own personal standards. If others do better, fine. If others fail to provide the approval we might think is justified, fine. Seek satisfaction in having done the best you can.
This leads into one of the realities of joining a university community. Many who show up at university were leaders in their various pursuits in high school – academics, sports, the arts – but find that with the concentration of talent, work ethic, and just plain raw intellectual horsepower that exists within the student body at universities, they are no longer at the top of the heap. This matters a lot if you define yourself in terms of how near the top of the heap you are. But it matters not at all if you define yourself in terms of what you actually do and how you do it – how well you meet your own personal standards. You can control the latter and take satisfaction in living life to your own, hopefully high, standards.
Q: We have noticed that some of the high schools aren't assisting the Grade 11 students with where and how they should seek information about universities.
We are choosing my daughter's Grade 12 classes, focusing on her strengths, interests and to obtain her 6 U credits. But those, especially if they have not decided a clear path, know what they won't be doing - ie math or sciences aren't their strength or field - but not sure what to choose.
Where should a parent/student look to sort out the best liberal arts/general studies direction to go in when still sorting the focus or career direction? Any suggestions? Thank you.
A: Yes, high schools do vary in their ability to help students with the important course selection decisions they must make going into Grade 12. For most of these students, the goal is to make Grade 12 course selections that provide them with the pre-requisites they need for the courses they wish to take when they reach university. So, the question is, how does one achieve this? First of all encourage your child to proactively seek help from their high school counsellor. There are some excellent advisors in the guidance community.
Universities typically publish a document known as a "viewbook." It typically describes the university and sets out all the programs the university offers. It often includes a table that specifies the Grade 12 courses that are required for each program. You can send away for the "viewbook" or, in many cases, look at it online.
Universities also spell out the requirements for completion of their degree programs in "calendars." The calendars include a large section devoted to admission requirements. To find out the Grade 12 courses required for each degree program, just look in the admissions section of your program's undergraduate calendar.
Also, the calendars spell out the courses one must take to complete each degree program as well as the pre-requisites for each course within a program. Typically the "100-level" or "1000-level" courses are the first year courses, and these specify their respective Grade 12 pre-requisites. So you can look in the degree program descriptions as well.
The following are helpful websites:
* www.ouac.on.ca, which provides direct links to the Ontario university calendars and a copy of INFO 71, which lists the program admission requirements for Ontario universities
* www.ouf.ca, a university fair held in Toronto
* http://www.electronicinfo.ca/html/english/pdf/uip.pdf, schedule of university visits to high schools.
Other issues you might be wondering about:
* Are you ready for the transition? What kinds of resources are important to enable you to enjoy and succeed in your field of study? Does your target university have them? Consider your academic strengths and weaknesses and use the six months between now and September to make improvements where needed.
* Have you thought about how you are going to balance the many exciting opportunities that will be available to you? Are you fully informed to manage your mind, body and soul along with the temptations of sex, drugs and rock and roll?
* Are you set up to manage your finances? Most important, are you aware of the many resources available when something goes wrong for you or a friend?
Mike McIntyre has a bachelor of commerce degree from Queen's University and is a chartered accountant. He has an MBA from York University, and a Ph.D. in management from Queen's. He is currently a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton, as well as at Queen's.
Sharron McIntyre attended Condordia University, earning a bachelor of commerce. She has an MBA from the University of Toronto. She also taught in the undergrad business program at Queen's and helped students with career planning.