Dear OUAC Applicants: Lessons I Learned. A student reflection.
There’s no denying it, Ontario university applications can be an overwhelming process. Filling out applications, selecting the right programs, and dealing with the uncertainty of an acceptance is a lot to deal with especially when you have to worry about your schoolwork at the same time. I’ve been there. I know how stressful it can be. Don’t worry, it can be done. If you’ve made it this far, you can go much further!
Before we get started, I want to thank Ontario eSecondary School for providing me with advice throughout my university journey. The staff impacted my life in ways that they don’t even know! It’s a full-circle moment for me as I write this student reflection. With that being said, here are the top three lessons I learned after submitting my university applications.
University Applications Lesson 1: Don’t be intimidated to apply!
We all doubt our capabilities from time to time. When it comes to applying to university programs, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re not good enough. “My marks aren’t great. I barely meet the cut-off average. There’s so much competition. I don’t really like this university.” Apply anyways. You never know if you’ll get accepted. Yes, you’ll end up spending more money on applications, but if you have the extra dollars to spend, it’s worth it.
Out of the universities that I applied for, I never thought I would attend Western University. It wasn’t one of my top choices, simply because of the distance. Western University is two hours away from my home. Living there for four years seemed impossible. I couldn’t cook if my life depended on it, literally! I didn’t think my parents would support the idea. Today when I look back, I still can’t help but think how in the world did I manage attending a university so far away? And that’s my point. You never know what you’re truly capable of, or which life routes you’ll end up choosing. While there was every reason in the book to avoid applying to Western, I still did. It was the best choice I made!
There’s a complex level of thinking and consideration involved in selecting which universities to apply to. Unless you start planning in the summer, you won’t get enough time during the first few months of school to really think about your decision. It requires time to reflect. Here are a few questions to consider when applying:
- What are my goals?
- Why might this program be a good fit for me?
- Do I want to stay at home or live on campus?
The worst thing you could do is limit your choices by only applying to schools you are entirely certain you’ll attend. Life isn’t so linear, things change. Be open to change. If you’re going to err, err on the side of applying to a few extra schools. This doesn’t mean you should apply to every single university, but definitely apply to a couple of extra programs.
University Applications Lesson 2: Do your research!
Reading about universities and their programs SUCKS! I get it. The material is boring, and it goes on forever. Sure, the first university booklet or website seems interesting, but after that it just gets repetitive. No room for sugar-coat, you’re just going to have to toughen up. The more time you dedicate towards educating yourself on university programs, the better decisions you will make. It’s very easy to get lost and follow the crowd when it comes to university applications, and all life choices for that matter. If you do something just to follow the crowd, you’ll lose sight of purpose and feel lost.
Luckily, you can find university programs outlines online, highlighting courses, career options, and more. Why is it important to understand your university options before finalizing? You’ll make a much more informed decision and feel confident about it. This advice applies not only when submitting applications, but also when selecting which university to attend. When you’re not sure why you chose to do something, you frequently doubt yourself during your pursuit. Spending some extra time to research your program choices will save you from this stress. Think of it like taking a course at Ontario eSecondary School. Going over the course outline gives you a clear picture of what to expect. You’ll feel much more confident when you enrol.
This is the most important point. Until now you’ve been on the same level playing field as other students in your grade. There’s not much to really distinguish each other by. The real world is different. People carry titles, drive cars, own homes, and more. Don’t get lost in comparing yourself to another person’s glitter. “Glossy surfaces reflect more than what they reveal” (David Goggins). Just because it seems like someone’s life is fantastic on the surface, doesn’t mean it is. Similarly, just because others are doing better than you, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. It’s important that you learn to compete with yourself and not others. And the first step is self-acceptance. You need to accept that you’re worthy of being competed with. I’ll elaborate on self-acceptance and self-motivation in another post!
For now, just recognize that life events do not occur in the same way for everyone. Early acceptances will be given to some and not others. Your friends might get accepted into a program that you won’t. You may not even get any acceptances. Whatever the case is, you cannot give up! You only fail when you give up. There are so many opportunities in life. We tend to miss out on these opportunities because we’re blinded by our own sadness. Connect with an advisor online, contact a university, or email Ontario eSecondary School. They can give you advice and connect you with the right people. I myself received advice from Ontario eSecondary School throughout my university journey. Thanks OES!
I hope these three points help you navigate your university applications. I recently graduated from Western University, where I studied medical science and computer science. If I can do it, so can you. It all comes down to work ethic. I wish you the best on your applications and life endeavours. Until next time, stay optimistic!