Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a student’s life. It can be transformative in so many ways that it can totally change the course of someone’s life. Not only does studying abroad offer access to top ranking universities, their high quality facilities and faculty, but it also imbibes in students essential life skills like self-reliance, independence, responsibility, people skills, empathy, acceptance, open-mindedness, and much more. For a few decades, the US and the UK have been preferred choices for students, especially Indians, that wish to study out of their home country. However, more recently, Canada has become one of the top destinations students choose to study in. There are various factors, such as affordability, high standard of living, top ranked universities, culture, etc. that are responsible for this shift in perception. As more and more students apply to Canadian universities for completing their higher education, here are some tips to remember:
Know your timeline
As is the case with most universities, applications to Canadian universities happen almost fully online. Students are expected to submit the necessary personal documents, academic records, test scores and essays on the online portal, after which they might be asked to attend an online interview before the decision is announced. The application process is time consuming and complex, since there are a lot of prerequisites to be fulfilled, and students should therefore be very mindful of the application timeline.
Most Canadian universities have the Fall intake i.e. the September intake as the primary start date for programmes. Apart from this, some universities also have Spring intakes and Winter intakes, in May and January respectively, which take in smaller amounts of students. Those wishing to apply must find out which intakes their university follows and prepare accordingly.
It is recommended that you start preparation at least 12 to 15 months prior to your intended intake, since it takes time to appear for the required tests and write the necessary essays, etc. Furthermore, all universities have deadlines pertaining to submission of documents, application for scholarships, etc. which is another thing students should keep in mind.
As mentioned before, the application process to Canadian universities can be quite complex and time consuming. This is especially true for international students since they are subjected to more detailed tests. One of the most important things to do before starting the application process is understanding the prerequisites and criteria for your chosen university. Before beginning the process, students must visit the university website and conduct in-depth research about what documents need to be submitted and what tests need to be taken in order to be eligible.
Apart from this, since the Canadian school system is different from the Indian one, there are certain requirements dependent on the number of years of education obtained as well as credits obtained. For instance, some universities require students to have completed 16 years of education for any graduate level degree. Similarly, the number of credits required to appear for a higher degree might differ for different countries, which may become a problem.
Students who have difficulty understanding the criteria should contact the admissions office or academic advisors in their chosen university and gain some clarity on whether or not they are eligible.
Prepare the documentation
Once you have understood the prerequisites of the university, it is time to prepare all the documents needed for the application. Most universities require academic transcripts of your previous institutes. Students should contact their schools or colleges and get the necessary papers, along with leaving or passing certificates, in case they don’t already have them.
Apart from this, for international students, Canadian universities require English proficiency scores along with the application. Exams like the TOEFL, IELTS and PTE test the student’s basic knowledge of English and thus are necessary. Most Canadian universities accept IELTS scores, for both undergraduate and graduate level programmes. Students should study and appear for these proficiency tests in time to obtain scores, which are then to be attached to the application along with the rest of the documents.
Depending on which programme you are applying for, students may also be required to take some admission tests such as GRE or SAT. These are not mandatory for all Canadian universities, but may be required for some. Students must find out if their chosen university requires these test scores and take the tests in time to attach the scores to their application.
Applying to a foreign university can be a stressful and confusing process. However, students should try to keep calm and work through the application process in an organised manner. International students should begin preparing for applications at least 12 to 15 months prior to their intended intake and have a timetable for all the steps in the process. They should follow instructions given on the university website or consult the admissions office in case of any confusion. They should also understand the prerequisites and appear for the necessary tests based on their chosen programme. Using an organised approach and a calm mind, the application process can become a relaxed process rather than a scary one.