It is an exciting time when you are looking for a university program. Happiness, anticipation, butterflies in the stomach…and maybe even uncertainty are some of the feelings that come to mind. However you may feel, know that this will be a life-changing experience: You will grow and develop as a student. So, when it comes to choosing a program, there are factors you should consider. Here are some that should not be overlooked:
“The program you choose is a part of you. You should be proud to attend that institution.”
Where do you want to be? Of course, if you are studying in person, it is more than just going to campus and a classroom. The commute to campus and what is around the campus are important factors to consider. When we think of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus, we are reminded of everything downtown Toronto has to offer—cultural sites, restaurants, transportation, shopping! In just a day, you can grab coffee from a café on Harbord Street, eat lunch in Chinatown, visit the AGO or the ROM, shop on Bloor Street…and of course, go to class. The list is endlessly convenient.
How important is a name? For some a school name is just in fact, a school name. For others, the name means experience, research, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. While having fun at school is important, so are the academics of a program. Take a look at what the program offers, who the instructors are, and what support is provided. The program you choose is a part of you. You should be proud to attend that institution.
“In the end, it boils down to what you are passionate about. Pick a program that has what you are looking for.”
How much is going to cost? This is a serious and sensitive topic – in no way is it taken lightly. And of course, finances do occasionally have a bearing on the education we receive, whether it is an undergraduate degree, or a short-term summer program. There are some ways around this. Maybe think of it this way: What financial aid does the school provide? Do certain programs offer scholarships or bursaries? What is included in the fees (health insurance, books and materials, meals, etc.)? It is always worth investigating.
What do you want to learn? Sometimes the sheer number of courses is overwhelming, but it is also a great feeling when there are so many options that you do not know what to choose. Some guiding questions include: Are you looking for opportunities to network with students from around the world? Would you rather be online than in-person? What types of activities and assessments are involved in the course? What prior knowledge is needed to take a course? In the end, it boils down to what you are passionate about. Pick a program that has what you are looking for.
What else do you want to do? Sometimes what happens in class stays in class. It is important to look for programs that also offer you growth and stimulation by being able to participate in events, activities, and workshops. The connections you will make with students, staff, and the community are just as imperative to your education. You should be on the lookout for that opportunity to engage in fun and dynamic opportunities.
“The connections you make with the students, staff, and the community are just as imperative to your education.”
When it comes to choosing a program, picture yourself in a city that brings excitement, studying a topic you are passionate about, and engaging with people and activities that will help develop the very best you. And ask questions! Get in touch with program staff to know more about programs that have been designed specifically for students like you.
Nicola Carozza has been with the International Programs team since 2012 and has taught a variety of courses both in the International Foundation Program and the International Summer Academy. In addition to teaching at the University of Toronto, Nicola brings his vast experiences from working in offshore programs to organizing professional development events for English language teaching. Now, as the Assistant Director, he leads the recruitment strategies and initiatives, collaborates with different parties to develop new programming, and manages operations for the International Summer Academy and Online Learning programs for over 1000 students each year.