Did you know that there are over 25,000 Universities in the world? Choosing the right university for the right career path seems impossible and quite honestly, a stressful process.
During high school, once grade 12 started, the thing that was on everyone’s mind was to get the highest mark to get into the university of their choice. It seemed like everyone was consistently stressing, for good reason. There are lots of factors that go into choosing a university. From the residence, location, program, extracurriculars, campus opportunities, the list goes on. There was also the constant fear of not getting into any university. I applied for seven different universities and I have friends who applied for 15.
When I was looking into where I wanted to apply, I focused on two things: Location and Program.
Location: Some students want to go abroad. Some want to move out and some want to stay at home and commute. Fortunately, being in Canada, I am fortunate enough to have many great university options where it did not make sense to spend international fees. Almost everything that I could find in the United States or the UK, I could find a suitable alternative near where I was living. While I had great university options around me that I could easily commute to, one of the biggest reasons why I was excited about university was to move out of the house and start being more independent and having more freedom. I still applied for universities that were near me, but when it came to ranking, the further, the better.
Program: The question that I get asked most often by those younger than are “Which program are you in?” which is then followed up by “Why did you choose Waterloo for design?”. For context, I go to the University of Waterloo, a school that is very well known for its Engineering faculty. My second choice was Ryerson University which is more well known for its creative arts programs. I choose the University of Waterloo because the program that I was going into was broad in terms of what I was learning. I was in a program called Global Business & Digital Arts (or GBDA for short) and it taught a lot about different creative arts such as photography, videography, graphic design, UX/UI design, etc. along with business concepts. The program that I applied for at Ryerson was Media Production. As much as I loved Media Production at the time, I chose GBDA because it gave me more options and taught me a lot more. I felt that I had more opportunity to explore myself and what I learned compared to Media Production.
I can’t stress how important it is to go into a program that is broad unless you are absolutely sure what you want to do. For example, let's say that you got accepted into your University for Nanotech Engineering. You were sure that this is what you wanted to do and its been your dream for the last year. Once you enter University, start working on the courses and realized that this program may not be the right program for you. You find yourself bored with the classes that you attend. Essentially, you are now doing something that you don’t like. What's great about university is that there are so many options for other programs. With a program such as Nanotech Engineering, you have very specific courses that you have to follow which means that you do not have a lot of options if you wanted to switch. You might be able to easier transfer to another engineering program, but if you wanted to switch into sciences, then you’d be back at square one.
For me, I went into a program that gave me a lot of electives and options. And due to my wide range of electives, I was easily able to switch into Legal Studies because I did the prerequisites during my first-year electives. I was able to switch my programs without having to do any extra years or terms.
University is when you realize how big the world actually is. These last two years, I felt that I have grown more than ever in my life and I believe that I have changed for the better and become more of who I am. Through all my research, talking to alumni, talking to friends and family, I definitely do not regret my decision. I love my university and look forward to the next two years there.