How-to: A guide to applying to university and college in North America
We are well into the 2022/23 academic year, which means the reality of university is emerging for soon-to-be high school graduates. The anticipation and excitement about making new friends, exploring new academic subjects and training in a different environment with new teammates and coaches, is one like no other. However, deciding what school to go to can be quite an overwhelming process - this is the place you are going to be spending the next four or five years of your life, after all!
Understanding what options and opportunities are out there for you, in the collegiate landscape, can make the decision a lot easier. Read on to learn about your options for university, both academically and athletically, how to apply to university and important dates to keep in mind during the whole process!
Let’s start with the fundamentals. In the North American collegiate track and field landscape, there are over 1,700 schools with track and field and/or cross country programs to choose from. These schools are distributed between different athletic associations including U SPORTS, the NAIA, NJCAA, CCAA and the NCAA’s three divisions.
Curious about all your options? → Click here to learn more
This may seem like a lot to take in, but Streamline Athletes is here to help make the process smooth and easy for you. With the click of a button, you can browse and filter all 1700+ schools from any association, division and conference and learn more about each. From academic programs to athletics facilities and tuition fees, we have you covered.
Take the first step in your recruitment journey and start your research today! Once you have found some schools you are interested in it is time to start applying.
Let’s talk about the next steps.
Now that you are starting to think about what comes after high school there are some important things you should know.
Athletes, once you reach your Senior/Grade 12 year you have a few options:
- Take a gap year
- Head to university/college/junior college
Keep in mind there is no wrong answer here, it all comes down to what is right for you at the time.
Some students choose to take a gap year for multiple reasons. This is usually a year-long break before entering university/college, during which a student may take the opportunity to work, volunteer or travel. A gap year may even be a time for students to grow their independence and prepare themselves for when they are ready to head to college. This option will eventually lead to university/college - just think of it as a little detour.
Other students may opt to go to junior college. Degrees at junior colleges usually take only two years to complete and when these two years are up, students will most likely have an associate’s degree or a technical degree, giving them the ability to enter the workforce. For some this is enough, but many student-athletes choose to then transfer to a 4-year school in the NCAA, NAIA or U SPORTS association. While others choose to go straight into a four-year institution right off the bat. Like we said before the choice is totally up to you!
For those looking to enter university/college/junior college straight from high school, keep on reading, we will delve into what you need to know.
SCHOOLS IN CANADA
There are a couple of steps for applying to university in Canada.
1. Choose an Institution
First things first, determine what you would like to study and where. This could be Business, English, Biology, Kinesiology, Communications, the list goes on and on so take your time to do your research. Different universities have different programs - browse and explore CCAA and U SPORTS school program pages on Streamline Athletes.
2. Prepare and submit your application(s)
Once you have identified your preferred universities, find out what their specific admission requirements are and what the application process entails. Keep in mind applications and deadlines vary from school to school. For instance, some universities only require you to submit your grades, others may need you to write a personal essay or statement. Find out what official documents you will need to provide, such as transcripts from high school.
The application process does vary from province to province. In some provinces, you have to apply through a central application service. For example, Ontario requires prospective students to apply through the OUAC portal, while in other provinces, like British Columbia, you apply directly to the university.
3.Don’t miss deadlines
Keep an eye on deadlines for the universities you are interested in and apply accordingly. Generally speaking, the application process starts in the fall of the year before you would begin university/college. These deadlines vary from institution to institution and academic program to program and some even have early admission deadlines. Early admission is where students can apply to the school earlier, and they will consequently receive their admission results earlier. Whereas other universities have rolling admissions; you can apply as you like before the final deadline. In Canada, most undergraduate programs accept applications until March 1st for September entry.
Make it your job to keep on top of key dates and get those applications in sooner rather than later!
For International Students:
If you are an International Student and you intend to study in Canada for six months or longer, you must apply for a permit before you arrive in Canada.
Other things you are likely to need: an up-to-date passport, an English and/or French language proficiency qualification and proof of how you will be funding your studies.
SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES
Similar to applying to schools in Canada, one of the most important elements of applying to a school in the States is research! There are way more universities/colleges in the USA than in Canada, which means a lot more options to explore and choose from. Take the time to narrow down your list of schools you are interested in. Do your research on school location, available courses, campus culture, athletic programs finances, scholarships and campus size, to name a few.
Curious about the difference between big and small universities? Click here to learn more.
This research will also come in handy when you are asked to write your college essays. Like some schools in Canada, which require personal statements, schools in the States may ask applicants to write about why they want to attend their particular university/college.
Remember, each university and college has its own set of admission standards and applications. Students must apply to each school separately. For international students, in particular, consider contacting the admissions offices of the schools you are interested in to ask any important questions you may have.
As for other requirements, grades are an important factor in college applications. US schools look at grades from all four years of secondary school, unlike Canadian schools, which only consider senior level grades. But don’t fret if your grades from the first years of high school aren’t competitive, admissions officers typically look for improvement over time and an upward grade trend. Just make sure to keep on improving!
In addition to high school grades, US colleges require SAT/ACT scores, so make sure to plan and schedule these exams. There are 7 test dates for each of these exams a year, so it’s a good idea to look into what the admission requirements of your top schools are and work back from there.
For context, the ACT (American College Testing) and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) are two standardized tests used for college admissions in the US. These exams are used to test student’s readiness for college and act as a common data point when comparing applicants.
The ACT covers four academic skill areas: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science Reasoning. An optional writing test is also provided and the exam is scored on a scale of 1-36.
The SAT has four sections as well: Reading, Writing and Language and Math. There is also the option of writing an essay and the exam is scored on a scale of 400-1600.
Students tend to do better on one test over the other, depending on their strengths with different subjects and time. Do a couple of practice tests to see which exam would suit you the best, know how you handle time pressure and decide what types of questions you find most challenging.
For International Students:
Most universities in the USA require foreign applicants to take an English proficiency test. There are some of the accepted tests: the IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic and the C1 Advanced. Students must also get a student visa. For international students partaking in academic studies, this is called an F1 visa. This visa will only be valid for a specific university, if you want to transfer schools, later on, there will be more steps to take.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
We understand that taking this next step may be scary for you, but we are here to help every step of the way. Especially during this time of uncertainty, you may be nervously wondering if your application will be affected by COVID-19.
Universities and colleges are working hard to make sure the application process still runs smoothly; however, each university/college has implemented their own rules and restrictions. For instance, on-campus visits for prospective students may have been and continue to be cancelled, some universities may be putting more weight on personal statements, while others may show a greater level of flexibility on grade requirements. Do your research to see what your schools of choice are doing. If you need guidance we are happy to help, too.
Start your research on schools to see what is available for you and what piques your interest. You can research collegiate track and field/cross-country programs and schools now on Streamline Athletes.
Feel free to email us with any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org
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