Application process for under-grad courses
Canada is home to some of world’s top ranking universities such as University of Calgary, University of Columbia, Mc Gill University, University of Western Ontario to name a few. There is a plethora of options in undergraduate studies in Canada. The Canadian Government encourages international students in order to elevate the status of their colleges and universities in the world rankings.
The following are some steps to understand the application process for under-graduation in Canadian colleges and universities:
Select a course
It is important to keep in mind the background of your studies before selecting a course in a Canadian college/university. If you studied PCM in 11th and 12th, you have a variety of options for graduation in fields related to your subjects. Similarly, a Commerce student can opt for Finance, Commerce and Management related courses in Canada.
What is good about applying to a Canada university/college is that you don’t need to apply more than once to a specific university. As you select your course, you have the option of choosing a second university, incase the first one didn’t work out.
Tip-After having determined your area of interest and chosen the program, review profiles of faculty members who have similar interests as yours. Establish a relationship with the department and review program requirements with them. You might need them later as your supervisors.
Make a list of universities
While getting information about university/college rankings, you must make a list of those that will suit you the best. You can refer the directory of universities/colleges in Canadian provinces on this site- http://www.cicic.ca/395/directory-of-universities-colleges-and-schools.canada. After that, you can individually research these institutions to find a course that is most suitable for your studies. It is advisable that you take the help of an experienced counselor to guide you through this research since it is going to be the most crucial decision of your life.
Review and understand admission requirements
Once you have short-listed the institutions you wish to apply, understand their specific admission requirements by reviewing them. Ask seniors who are studying in Canada, a relative who may have some local information or an expert counselor who can help outlining the most crucial points of admission needs.
Most under-graduate Canadian programs require 16 years of formal education. On the other hand, in India, most graduate courses are three-year long, which leads to a total of 15 years of formal education. In such cases, students can opt for an additional one-year university affiliated program or appear for the first year of a postgraduate degree in India. However, some programs in some universities may not follow this rule. You can confirm this by writing to them.
All students are required to take the TOEFL/IELTS (or equivalent as acceptable) as the primary language of instruction in almost all universities and colleges in Canada is English. For undergraduate courses, the minimum score requirement in IELTS is 6.5 and TOEFL is 80.
SAT: Canadian colleges and universities accept SAT scores for their undergraduate courses apart form IELTS/TOEFL. Test preparation material is at your disposal as it is available everywhere. Do have a look at the official guides of these exams, a few more practice test books–and you will have everything you need to crack any of these tests. The SAT score requirement for each university will vary.
TIP:The admission application process can take considerable time, so you should start at least one year in advance to compile the necessary information and documentation.
Build a strong profile
Apart from SAT and IELTS/TOEFL scores, you will need to develop your detailed resume talking about the subjects in XI and XII standards, co-corricular activities, your interests, projects undertaken, any certification/diploma you have completed or pursuing etc.
In addition, you will need a strong Statement of Purpose and a Letter of Recommendation.
SOP and its significance
The Statement of Purpose generally helps a Canadian University/college to understand your career objectives and your purpose of applying to a specific institution. Students are required to write an essay explaining their main goal or purpose in life, which would support their decision of joining that college. Most universities give tips on what they would like to read in the SOP, and how long it should be.
An SOP must be written by keeping in mind various factors such as clarity of thought, proper line of reasoning for choices made, goals and your personal traits that will help you achieve them. It is important to be precise without being too flashy. It should have content, your objectives and goals and should be relevant to the course you are applying for.
All Canadian colleges/universities wish to know if you will be a value addition to their institutions. Hence, an SOP is a very important document to determine if you will get an admission.
Letter of Recommendation
Letters of reference or recommendation play a very important part in your admission especially in courses that earn you an under-graduate degree. A recommendation letter is a signed statement from a person who knows you well or has taught you in a subject at school or college. It should list out your positives and negatives and highlight your academic or non-academic achievements. The recommenders must indicate their position, how long they have known the applicant and in what capacity. He/she should briefly discuss the need, importance and usefulness of the study the applicant proposes to undertake. Recommenders are usually asked to rank applicants in their letters of recommendation, which helps admission officers to interpret the academic credentials of foreign students.
Students should obtain letters of recommendation (often on the prescribed forms sent by the institutions) from teachers who know them as a person as well as a student and/or from employers who have worked with them. Concrete examples can be given by the professor/teacher/employer to demonstrate the skills of applicant, which will increase their chances of selection. Many universities have their own format and questions that have to be answered by the person who is writing the letter of recommendation on your behalf. Letters have to be relevantly informative and should cover all the points required by the university to ensure a smooth admission.
TIP – You will need these documents for the admission process: SAT and TOEFL/IELTS score card, transcripts of Class XI and XII, SOP, LOR, Resume, Certifications, Certificates of any achievement, Academic or Non-academic documents showcasing your special skills or talents, a Letter of Acceptance by the University/College you applied for, Visa.
Submit your application
You would need to create an online account on the university’s website. You will have to submit all the forms and documents. Nowadays most of the forms and documents can be uploaded online, some may ask for a physical package. The application fee can be paid online as well. You should keep an eye on the application deadline and prepare accordingly.
Selection process followed by colleges/universities:
Canadian universities invest a lot of time and resources on foreign students. Hence they want to be sure who they take in. They usually look for and select students who would positively contribute to the campus-learning environment and benefit other students. The college admission process is a tedious and a rigorous process and now you know why.
After receiving your application and supporting documents,the admission committee or department reviews your profile. The committee needs to be sure that the student is much more than what his academic/entrance test scores say. And so they consider the entire profile of the student and scrutinize his/her extra-curricular activities, interests, achievements etc. There are many other factors that they consider, such as a student’s potential to contribute towards the productivity of the course and to the campus and the community life; his potential for success in the university based on his past records; his sincerity and dedication towards his projected goals etc. Universities also provide departmental scholarships, fellowships or other funding in some cases. Once they are fully assured of your potential, they send you an admission letter/offer letter through post or email.
International students are eligible for all of the scholarships and fellowships administered by Canadian universities. Now there are several ways through which they offer scholarship and mostly it’s offered in exchange for services. Often the faculty/department/academic unit decides whether to provide the student with salary from employment such as teaching and research assistantships, fellowships and stipends from research grants. You can also get scholarships through various institutions such as companies, schools and charities, if you are meritorious and ambitious enough then there are various other options such as charitable organizations, churches, and sports clubs, service groups that give out a fair amount of scholarships to Indian students. Do check out this site to learn more about financial assistance: http://www.cicic.ca/389/student-financial-assistance.canada
Pursuing an undergraduate course in Canada can cost anywhere between CAD 10000 to 15000 for a per year.
Get study permits
You cannot study in Canada without a study permit. For this, you will need to submit a letter of acceptance from the college/university apart from other identification proofs. Upon receiving a completed application, the visa office reviews it and decides whether to approve a student or not. Sometimes they may give you a time and place for an interview.
If your application is approved, you will be given a letter of introduction confirming the approval. This letter must be shown to immigration officials at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada. You will be issued a temporary resident visa (TRV).
Learn about Canada beforehand
Read and understand about your place of residence/city in Canada. It is recommended that you read information provided by online newspapers of that city. Gather as much information as you can about local slang, food, etiquettes etc of the community to avoid cultural shocks after reaching there. Even before planning your travel and booking tickets, find out travel sites/agencies that might give you reasonable rates.