Heading to university or college is a rite of passage for thousands of young Canadians every year. While choosing the best program is top of mind for many high school students and their parents, it’s never to soon to exploring what higher education programs across the country have to offer. By researching post-secondary programs, you can help ensure that your child is well prepared when the time comes to apply for university or college.
A great resource to consult if your child is considering applying to university is Maclean’s. Every year the Canadian magazine publishes various rankings for universities across the country that take into account student satisfaction, university reputation, along with individual program rankings. They also offer an interactive tool that you can use to create a personalized ranking system based on what matters to your child, including things like:
- Student/faculty ratios
- Campus activities and student life
- Residence and campus food ratings, and more
If your children are younger, you can still help them prepare for higher education in the future by encouraging them to join extracurricular activities that will let them explore a subject or interest. Participating in sports, volunteering or belonging to student groups also may help them stand out in competitive programs they wish to apply for later on and could even open up future scholarship opportunities.
Older high school students might want to begin to browse university websites and request brochures as early as possible. That way they can be sure they’ve enrolled in the right secondary school courses that meet their desired program’s requirements. These materials can also help your child get a sense of a school’s overall cultural fit for them.
Some young people deciding which university or college they will attend this year will understandably be tempted to pick the same post-secondary school as their friends. As parents you may need to help them think outside of the box. You can offer to accompany them for formal campus tours so they get a close-up look at different institutions and what they have to offer. You can also encourage your child to connect, if possible, with students already attending an institution they are interested in.
It can also be useful to create a pros and cons chart where together you can compare financial considerations such as tuition costs, living expenses, travel and other incidentals. Some key factors to think about are:
- What are the job prospects after they complete a prospective program?
- What are the specific entrance requirements? Are there activities outside of grades that are taken into consideration when admitting students to a program?
- How far away from home is your child willing to live? Do they want to live on campus, or will staying close to home ensure they keep focussed on studies?
- How do they learn best? Larger programs often have class sizes that can exceed 500 students. Does the lecture format work your child, or would they prefer smaller classroom settings?
- What housing options are available?
- Are there extracurricular activities that appeal to them, including newspapers, student groups, sports, and music or drama societies that will round out their experience?
Planting the seed early in your child’s mind about higher education can help them to imagine and aspire to goals outside of their immediate experience. With an RESP from Knowledge First Financial, you have the peace of mind knowing that you can give them the financial support and choice in whichever education path they choose.