Doing Your Research on Post-Secondary...

Doing Your Research on Post-Secondary Institutions

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By Erin Rebello

It’s that time of year again where many grade 12 students are planning (and perhaps also panicking) about choosing a post-secondary institution to attend after high-school. As an almost-adult, you’re making a major decision that affects the trajectory of your life for at least the foreseeable future, so the pressure is definitely on. Whether you’re planning on going to university, college, or trade-school, choosing a post-secondary institution is a huge responsibility and can seem extremely daunting. Although there are many things you can do to prepare, I would say that the best thing you can do is research the institution! Below are a few reasons why research is so crucial to making the right choice.

Ensuring the Program is Right for You

The first reason you should research your schools of choice is to ensure that the programs which you’re applying to are right for you. There are many aspects of a program to look at when considering whether it’s a fit for you or not, including:

  • Does it give you the level of education you desire? (e.g. diploma, degree, etc.)
  • Will this program help you to get the job you want in the future?
  • Does the required coursework interest you? Is it beneficial to you?
  • Are you eligible for this program? Do you have the necessary courses and grades?
  • How long is this program? Is it worth it for you?

These are only a few of the questions you should be considering when researching a school. By asking such thoughtful questions about a post-secondary institution, you’re able to really think about whether the institution you’re planning on applying to would meet your needs. If you require help with answering any of these questions, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit the school’s website, or even get into contact with an admission counsellor or program representative.

Making Sure that the Culture of the School is What You Want

Although all institutions can be considered good choices for their own reasons, some schools are simply more specialized and thus better in certain fields than others. For example, the University of Waterloo is widely considered to offer some of the best engineering programs in Canada, due to the in-depth studies and international co-op opportunities. You should also look at details such as how social an institution is, and what the student experience is like. I highly recommend that students book an online tour with any of the universities they are interested in, as it will give them a better understanding of the educational and social culture surrounding the school.


Another major factor to research when picking universities is the cost of attending the institution. Is it affordable for your situation? Some programs are extremely expensive, and though they may seem intriguing, it might just be in your best interests to save yourself from the student debt and choose a less costly alternative. When looking at finances, be sure to also check out the financial support offered by the school, as well as any entrance scholarships or bursaries that you would be eligible for. Most schools have a page specifically for finances, and sometimes they even have a cost calculator to help you get a better understanding of the price. Even a little research can go a long way with helping with costs.


Finally, when choosing programs, you most certainly need to look for the deadlines of that program. Some specific ones have earlier deadlines than others. You want to make sure that you’re familiar with any important deadlines so that you don’t miss out on any of the programs that you’re interested in. You can check out the school website and even email admission staff for any further assistance.



University of Waterloo. “University of Waterloo rankings and reputation.” https://uwaterloo.ca/future-students/university-of-waterloo-ranking

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