05 April 2015


university, the university series, school, post-secondary, choices, choosing a school, uni, high school, college, picking a college, graduation, graduating, degree, teenager, secondary school

So you've decided to continue your education at university. Now you've got some more important decisions to do: who, what and where?

The first question you should consider is: What are you wanting to study?

I've encountered several people who have gone to university, just to get their parents off their back. In the same realm, I've met people who have gone because "it's just the thing to do". If you're one of those people, I'd like to warn you to perhaps reconsider your reasoning.

However, I also know some who took general studies for a year before figuring out just what they wanted to focus on. That's fine -- in fact, most universities won't allow you to declare your major until your second or third year. That'll give you a chance to take different courses to figure out just what you're interested in. I do warn you though, the costs will add up, and when you finally do decide to finish a degree in something, those credits you've worked and paid for may not account for anything.

As well, when applying to a school, you have to have some idea as to the faculty you want to go into. Bachelor of Arts? Bachelor of Science? Bachelor of Commerce? Having even a little bit of a clue will help on your search.

I thought I wanted to major in communications when I decided to go back to school. I took a semester at my community college and took a CMN course, only to figure out it wasn't quite what I wanted. The realm of careers associated still interested me, so I researched other subjects. This is how I stumbled upon political science.

You may not know what's right for you until you give it a try. So if you're unsure but are definitely sure you want to go to university, take a bunch of courses in different disciplines of the area you like. Most schools will have a specific amount of requirement courses you need in order to graduate, and also in order to take upper level courses; I would definitely suggest you take these courses first year to get them out of the way.

For example, much of the second year courses required you to have a writing course that basically taught you how to write essays, etc. at a university level. You had to have these credits otherwise you couldn't register in many other courses. As well, for a Bachelor of Arts degree, you needed a language. I've spoken to several students in my Italian class last year, and they all said they had wished they had just gotten it out of the way instead of waiting until their last year to do it.

Now that you've figured out your focus, you need to do some research. Keep in mind where you want to study. Do you want to stay close to home? Do you want to go somewhere totally different? Also important: what is in your budget? Can you afford to move across the country for school, or would it be better to stay at home? All these choices will help determine what range you'll search for universities with.

If you're completely open as to where, the list of options might be a little overwhelming. You should have some sort of idea of location. If you like the sunshine, maybe focus on the environments that get the most sun. Or maybe you're into having all seasons, and so you can narrow it down that way.

When searching for schools, you should look at what types of courses and the number of courses available for you in your faculty of choice. Which schools have the best reviews?

I picked Dalhousie because they had a large number of programs and courses you could pick from.

Another thing you want to look at is the community. Do they have student societies? Are you interested in getting involved around campus? Generally, the more societies and events held around campus, the closer knit the community is. If you're into school spirit, you might want to take a close look at that. If you're just in it for the education and would rather not get that involved, this probably won't factor in much to your decision making. (However, I do extremely urge you to get involved.)

Another note to keep in mind: If you're interested in searching up professors in the department you're going into, or a certain class you're considering taking, you can look them up on RateMyProfessors.com. This site is a great tool to decide which section of courses to take, and also what to expect from them. They also offer ratings on certain schools.

The most important thing is to make an informed decision. Make a list of schools you're interested in and apply to them. I'd suggest rating them from top to bottom, with number one being your first choice.

I'd also add that if you're worried about not choosing the same university as your friends, stop worrying now. I promise you that you will make friends if you go to a school where you know nobody. You will find similar people to you, and you will have fun if you choose to let yourself have fun. University can be the time of your life if you let it be. It might take putting yourself in uncomfortable situations at first, but that's what university is for. It's more than just life inside the classroom, it's also the life that it will give you outside.

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