Applying for schools in Canada – Part 1

by Uche Onegeria 26 Feb , 2016  

Please, this advice is based on my Canadian experience. This might apply to some schools in other countries but I have never tried them. Also, remember that some aspects in each applicant’s requirement could be different. I’m only covering a general situation.

Header image from the web
Image from the web

To begin your application, ensure you really want to do this because it is a doorway into a totally different part of your life. A friend of mine once said that getting into Canadian schools can be hard but becomes easier once you are in (especially if you intend to stay back after you graduate). The degree of hardness here is probably just a mere 3 out of 10 (or less even). Nothing that will stress you enough to look like my friend on the right :).

Please, read till the end. Some factors through this post might change something in your application. If you read this carefully, and the corresponding posts about migrating to Canada, you will not need an agent to do this for you. It is always best to make these applications yourself because you know yourself best and know what you need.

A Canadian University. Image from the web

STEP 1 – Timeline
Now, you have made up your mind to study in Canada. Good for you.

Check your school’s application deadline and have that in sight before starting your application. This will organize you to for your Visa (Study permit) application deadlines as well. Your Visa application needs your admission letter; you cannot start your Visa application before your program admission.

STEP 2 – Finances
Once you have your timeline in sight, prepare your finances.
Someone I know started this way – gradually saving to have enough living expenses then her father of course started saving in his personal account to have a great Sponsor account.
Why is money important? As an International student, the embassy need to be certain that you have enough funds for the duration of your stay in Canada. Some applicants have been asked to pay all their tuition fees before their VISAs were issued as well so it is wise to be prepared.

Ignoring this step could lead to frustration when your admission into your dream Canadian school is approved and you start running around like a headless chicken to source for funds. Oh! The number of candidates with successful school admissions that did not make it into Canada due to finances (I bet almost 90%).

I welcome you to Canada with our flag

Who is your Sponsor? This is anyone you indicate on your VISA form that will cover all your finances. If your father can comfortably sponsor you, then focus on your school and VISA application. However, if you are sponsoring yourself, you will need to have your school fees and about $10,000 of living expenses ready. (I will advise that you have more than the expected $10,000 in your account).

Important note about your sponsor – Embassies prefer direct family member sponsor (not uncle’s uncle or long lost friend or puppy). The reason behind this obvious. They need to guarantee that your sponsor will not up and leave you once you are in Canada.

STEP 3 – What course do I study?
No one can make this decision for you except you.
However, with the instability in the economy, people advise that you make this decision wisely. I know someone with Biochemistry degree that eventually changed to IT (he got his M.Sc then took some IT courses). He decided Biochemistry might quite limited with respect to job opportunities and sought another option. This is just something for you to consider – ensure you do not just follow the crowd. Make up your mind based on your capabilities while balancing it with both current and future market demands.

Another factor that might be confusing is choosing between a course-based or thesis-based graduate program (the Masters degree is popularly called Graduate degree in North American schools).

Course-based: your typical one-year program. It is an intensive, instructor-taught crash program. You do not need a supervisor for this as you will be taught by several under various courses. From my experience, this program will stress you emotionally, intellectually, physically and otherwise so ensure you are sound. With a course-based program, get your finances ready like I said in the beginning and get your mind ready for school work then commence your application.

This will be you if you get into grad school for the course-based program.
Image from the web

Thesis-based: usually research-based, two-year program with few courses taught, intensive research under a supervisor and a level of teaching assistance (TA) expectation from you. You will also need to contact a supervisor in your field of study to see if they need candidates for their research. If you need to know if your Professor is lazy or a mean, dark spirited, horrible soul, check for your Professor to see what students think about him or her.
With this program, you might be paid some stipends, your school fees might be covered under your supervisor’s research funding. You see, Professors usually have funding for their research and it also somewhat covers their students and their research (you kind of work for them).
If your funding covers your school fees and some of your living expenses as well, then you will need a copy of your contract with your program supervisor for your VISA application.

All the best.

Find “Applying for schools in Canada – Part 2” Here

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