Many teens are okay cruising through high school and letting other factors influence what happens after graduation. Oftentimes they need to be pushed to think about their future and plan for it. While it might be tempting to relax and forget about school and studies at every opportunity, you need to be proactive if you’re going to get into a good college or university and pursue a rewarding career.
Research and Tour Schools
Have you thought about the kind of school you would like to attend, based on their programs, location, student population, and reputation? Depending on what you want to major in or your career preference, you can narrow down the list of schools you’d like to attend. If you are not certain about what you want to do, you should consider discussing your options with someone you trust who knows your strengths and weaknesses.
Research online and try to find people you know in fields of interest so they can share their views on the profession. It is also helpful to visit nearby colleges and universities during their tours and information sessions to get a good feel of what to expect.
Choose the Program in which You Want to Enroll
Though many colleges and universities only offer undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in certain fields, you still need to choose a specific program of study. Once you identify the school you want to attend, browse through their website to identify the undergraduate programs they offer, as well as program-specific admission requirements, including any supplementary application materials that may be required.
Check the institution’s undergraduate admission prerequisites, taking into account your educational background. Besides meeting the school’s admission requirements, you may also be required to submit a statement of interest or a personal profile, and there may be subject-specific prerequisites.
Provide proof of adequate English proficiency if you’re not a native English speaker. Each college and university has specific English language requirements that you need to meet.
Submit Your Application
Consult the college or university’s important application dates. In most cases, the application process lasts all fall, with the deadlines set in January. It’s best to apply as early as possible, because spaces in competitive programs fill fast and often close before the published deadlines. Find the application form that you’re required to use and follow the appropriate guidelines when submitting your application.
Apply for Scholarships
Most scholarships have early deadlines, so you should start looking for those you may be eligible for as soon as possible.
Submit Your Application and Follow-Up
Find all the information and required documentation that is required with your application, and submit all of it before the published deadlines, making sure to follow all instructions for submitting supporting documentation. Most schools send out an email with instructions on how to receive updates on your application status within two weeks of receiving your application. If a web link is provided, check it regularly to learn the status of your application, and to view notifications of offers of admission or any additional information that you may be required to provide.
Keep Working Hard as You Await a Positive Response
If successful, you can generally expect your offer of admission any time from late February to late summer, though it varies by institution. If you are still studying, you should keep in mind that offers dependent on interim grades tend to be conditional, so you need to maintain good grades.
If you want to attend a more selective school, studies alone may not be enough to beat your rivals. You need to do something extra that makes you standout, such as volunteering or working during your free time. This lets admissions offices know you are a well-rounded person who capitalizes on their time. It’s even better if the work relates to your planned career path or major. Once the school receives your final official high school results, and provided that they fulfill the condition(s) of your offer of admission, you will receive a notification that all conditions have been met.
Complete the Residence Application
If you intend to live on campus, you will need to complete the college or university’s residence application. In most cases, first year full-time undergraduate students are assured of finding a place to stay on-campus, provided they complete the application before the deadline, and receive and accept the admission offer before the deadline.
Get Your Finances in Order
Taking account of the costs—tuition fees, living expenses, accommodation, textbooks, etc.—is very important when choosing your school. While these costs vary, you need to explore the various funding options available to you, including scholarships, grants, and federal or provincial government programs.
Final Note: Plan Your Start
Congratulations on receiving your offer of admission. Now you need to accept the offer of admission and start planning for your college experience, including registration, course selection, transportation, dining options, and housing arrangements. If you want to take some time away from school, you can also request a deferral for one year.