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Ontario Universities: Tips for Preparing a Winning Application


Ontario is Canada's number one destination for international students. With over 150,000 international students, Ontario has the reputation of being a safe and welcoming place, with a high-quality education. Whether you’re seeking a qualification that is respected worldwide, an immigration pathway from study permit to work permit, or a cultural experience of a lifetime, Ontario promises it all.

As the most populated area in Canada, Ontario is home to dozens of world-class schools. You could choose from respected universities in the nation’s Capital, like Carleton or the University of Ottawa. Or you might decide to go to one of the largest and most renowned schools in Canada, like the University of Toronto. There are so many more options. The University of Waterloo is known as one of the most innovative schools in Canada, Ryerson for its rich urban environment and state-of-the-art school of management, UWO for its famous engineering programs, or OCAD which regularly produces artists and designers recognized around the world. There are so many more schools to mention, but let’s get to the point of this blog. What are some tips for putting your best application forward? Here are just a few great ideas to get you started.

Understand that you’re not just a number

Grades, IELTS, tests scores… are these what you think of when it comes to applications? You’re right to think so. For many university admission departments around the world, this is the only category they are serious about. In these cases, if you aren’t an A+ student, you shouldn’t even think about applying. In Ontario, your grades are certainly important. However, they are definitely not the only criteria for the application. In general, Ontario Universities are looking for “well-rounded” students. This means they want students who can get a 90% on their math test in the morning, then score a goal in the soccer game after school. They are looking for students who can write a critical essay about the effects of climate change on their geography exam, then help at the nursing home afterwards. Not only is the student’s academic intelligence valued, but also their commitment to life outside of the classroom as well.

Broaden your horizons

To follow from above, if you are planning on studying in Ontario, your application will have to be more than just names, addresses, and numbers. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Get a part-time job. This will show schools that you are a responsible person, can handle a busy schedule, and that people will pay you for your efforts. Schools understand that stocking shelves at a supermarket doesn’t take an A+ student, but the schools will value your commitment to hard work.

  • Play a sport. You don’t have to be an Olympian, but playing a sport shows you can work well in teams, follow the rules, and are probably a healthy person. Whether it’s being on the dance team, the basketball club, or a table tennis manager, sports score points on applications.

  • There is no question that volunteering is a valuable addition to your application. Indeed, some programs even require students to have completed a certain number of volunteer hours. Volunteering shows application officers that you care about society, that you are learning about life outside academia, and that you give help to those in need.

Demonstrate your English Proficiency

Although there are some French programs, and you could immerse yourself in Latin or Chinese classes, there is a 99% chance you’ll be using English as the medium for your studies in Ontario. When universities review your applications, your language skills will be an important consideration. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when applying:

  • Ace your IELTS. One of the most valued measurements of your English skills on your application will be your IELTS score. Indeed, some programs will only admit you with a high IELTS score. If English isn’t your first language, aim to get the highest IELTS rating you can. Doing preparation courses, practicing your English, and learning how to ace the test will help you score a higher mark.

  • Aside from your test scores, its also very important to show strong English skills on your application. Many application questions will include short-answer sentences, 400-word essays, and even short video submissions. When drafting your applications, be sure your language skills are both accurate and advanced. Have someone with good English skills check your work before you submit.

Ontario is an amazing place to undertake your academic studies. With some of the top schools in the world, and beautiful, safe, exciting locations, you won’t regret it. Be sure to make this a reality by submitting a winning application. Best of luck!

By Tony Rusinak
Canadian Expert in International Student Advising for IELTS, Immigration, and Applications


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