A Short Guide to Preparing University Applications in Ontario 3

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It’s nearly that time of year again – when droves of Ontario students, fresh on the heels of high school graduation, look toward a bright future in post-secondary education. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also stressful, fraught with questions about grade eligibility, degree choices, and how to stand out in a crowded field of applicants.

Whether your kid is cruising through their senior year of high school or looking to get prepared in their junior year, you can help them through the process. In this article, let’s explore a few tips for putting together an application to an Ontario university or college.

Improving Your Grades and Transcript

Post-secondary institutions look at applications holistically, factoring in extracurricular achievements and personal history, but they still pay special attention to grades. Most – if not all – universities require “minimum grade averages” that change each year according to demand.

If your young learner has great grades, they should be okay in their applications. But even if their grades aren’t ideal, they still have options to correct course.

Before submitting an application with a less-than-competitive transcript, encourage your kid to take upgrade courses. Upgrade courses are abbreviated versions of regular courses that allow students to improve their transcript marks. They can flexibly earn high school credits online in upgrade courses while completing their junior or senior year.

Writing an Effective Application Essay

Applications often have an essay component, in which a student responds to a prompt. Enrollment officers who read these essays often look for a “good fit” – a student whose personality, values, and character align with the institution.

When your kid writes their application essay, make sure they clearly stick to the prompt. They shouldn’t go off on tangents about their achievements, however flattering they think those accomplishments may be. They should write genuinely, expressing their interests and values, and structure the essay in an intuitive, easy-to-follow manner.

This article from The Princeton Review offers several helpful tips for writing university application essays. Give it a quick read before your kid dives into writing their essay.

A Short Guide to Preparing University Applications in Ontario 4

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Choosing What to Study

Some institutions allow students to select a first and second choice of degree, while others ask them to apply to a specific program directly. Read the application requirements carefully, and encourage your kid to think about their field of study before they apply. 

Navigating the OUAC

The OUAC is the hub through which your senior student will apply to their choice university in Ontario. It’s reasonably well laid out and easy to use.

Still, take some time to familiarize yourself – and them – with the website and its application process. They list the upcoming deadline as January 13th, 2022, so you have a little time to orient yourself. Specifically, read through their “how to apply” page, which also lists links to individual university application resources.

All in all, the process isn’t as scary as some make it sound. Take some family time to learn the ins and outs of the application process, boost your kid’s grades with online courses, help them write a winning application essay with the tips above, and use the OUAC when you’re ready!

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