BCUF Recap – University Application Tips

November 8, 2016

Tips from the admissions officers who visited during Bronte’s annual University Fair


Many universities review applications on a rolling basis i.e. if you send in your application first, your application will be reviewed first and you increase your chances of getting an acceptance. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should submit everything as soon as it’s together, especially if you have a lot of supplementary materials as well, but you should weigh the benefits of an earlier submission against working on a short essay for another week.

Tip #2: Do your research

Some university programs require extra supplementary material for your application, such as personal profiles, short essays, a portfolio for arts programs, or even a video interview for some business programs. Make sure you know what is required for your specific program and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from our guidance counsellors in completing them. Even if an essay or profile is “optional”, it is best that you complete it; in the situation that your marks right at the acceptance cut-off line, it is the supplementary material that will be used to judge whether you should receive an offer or not.

Universities also often offer supplementary programs in addition to their normal programs, such as bridging programs, English foundation programs, or academic mentorship programs that require separate applications. Do your research into these programs if you’re interested and make sure you have applied for them in the correct manner by their respective deadlines. Don’t miss out on the full university experience just because you didn’t take the time to dig around the university website some more.

Tip #3: Visit during an open house

In addition to getting a better feel for the university, open houses often have current students volunteering to talk about their experiences and offers the opportunity to speak to people who have gone through the same application process as you and come out the other side. If attending open houses are not an option, you can always look for any online events the universities may hold or just email admissions and ask them any questions you have.

Tip #4: Check your email address

  1. Apply with a Gmail/Hotmail/Outlook/Yahoo email address. Many other email hosts automatically filter out mass communication sent by universities. Universities (and future employers) usually have a preference for Gmail accounts, although Hotmail/Outlook or Yahoo email addresses will do as well. Make sure you apply to universities with that account and if you don’t have one already, make one!
  2. Don’t be that student with the outdated, unprofessional email address. If your email address contains anything else other than your name and a few numbers (usually representing your birthdate), it may be time to make a new email.
  3. Always check your junk email and mark the university emails as a safe sender. Universities are very reliant on emails to communicate with applicants. Queens University has even gone completely paperless – that means no letters, not even for your acceptance! So make sure they are marked as safe senders, because you never want your acceptance email to end up in your junk folder. Unfortunately, this is not Hogwarts; your letters will not just find you.

Tip #5: Check important dates

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the far-off deadlines. Remember that applications are due on January 11, 2017! And don’t forget that there’s still a lot more to do after getting accepted to university; once you have finally gotten that acceptance letter, you still have to accept the offer on OUAC, sign up and pay for orientation events, pay tuition, pay for residence, and pick your courses. Do your research ahead of time so that you don’t miss any of these important dates!

Tip #6: Communication is important

No matter what program or major you choose, communication is a skill that you will always need. That means whether you’re going into arts, humanities, science, engineering, business, or anything else, you need to ensure your English skills are up to standard. In university, you will not have the same access to teachers who will go over your writing with as much detail as your current English teachers will, so take advantage of your current situation to improve your reading, writing, and research skills; you will need it more than ever in the next 4 years.

Tip #7: Alternate offers are your friend

Have a school you really want to attend, but not sure that you will be accepted into your program of choice? Check if the university will offer alternate acceptances, which means the university will accept you into a similar program if you are not accepted into your top choice. That way, you can avoid applying for multiple similar programs at the same school, use that extra space on OUAC to apply to a completely different program or school, and save on application fees.

Tip #8: Apply, apply, apply! (to scholarships)

Don’t psyche yourself out of applying for scholarships. It’s easy to think that you need to have saved the world while getting a straight A report card in order to get a scholarship, but that is simply not the case. Of course, having lots of volunteer experience never hurt anyone, but never underestimate your experience. Different scholarships exist to support different students, so look for the ones that are right for you. You can start your search on www.electronicinfo.ca (scholarships from universities) or websites like www.yconic.com and www.scholarshipscanada.com (scholarships from external organizations).

When applying, also remember that you don’t need to win 20 scholarships worth $5000 each (although it would be nice). While a smaller scholarship worth $200 looks less worthwhile in comparison with a scholarship worth $2000, it is important to remember that both scholarships are worth applying to. Remember that the minimum wage in Ontario is $11.25 per hour, meaning a $200 scholarship is worth almost 18 hours of work. Smaller scholarships also often go unclaimed, meaning they have smaller and less competitive applicant pools (read: more likely to be awarded to you). So apply lots, because the potential reward is huge. Plus, it will look great on your resume later.

Tip #9: Include your parents in the process…

It may take some time and effort to talk your parents through the university application process, but considering that they are likely footing the bill for your studies and have raised you for the entirety of your life until this point, it’s a nice idea to make sure they know what’s happening. Let them know what programs and universities you are looking into and be open to their opinions and advice for the future.

Tip #10: … But realize it is ultimately your decision

There’s no doubt that parents always want what they think is best for you. However, when it comes to choosing a university and program, you are the only one who knows best. Choosing your university will be the first step in your journey towards adulthood; make sure it is a step in the direction you want.

When in doubt, consult with an older role model who has been through this process before or see a guidance counselor! Remember that we are here to provide assistance to you and see you reach your goals, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.