University

7 Easy Ways to Choose Your Dream School

Photo Thanks To Marco Bellucci

I wasn’t planning on writing this article so soon, but one of my best friends from back home has suddenly been caught in a whirlwhind of acceptances and a deadline! In order to try and aid her with her decision, I thought I’d share some of the tips I would have found helpful when I was making my decision last year. Enjoy!

1. Do Your Research

Flip through the Maclean’s magazine, see what they say about each of your choices. If you don’t think you’ll remember key stats like faculty-student ratio, bring a notebook and write them down. Make sure you look at everything that will affect you directly: residences, distance from home, class size. Write it all down! If you can, visit the schools. If they offer tours, take one! If not, go to the welcome center, get a map and explore all the areas that you will personally be using.

Get as much information as possible about all your options.

2. Don’t Expect to Just ‘Know’

A lot of people that I go to school with now have told me that when they first visited our campus, they knew it was the place for them. And while that’s fine and dandy for those folks, not all of us can simply feel that, and feel it confidently.  Personally, I didn’t feel that any school was the one for me upon visiting it. It wasn’t until I had put careful thought into it that I made my decision. So take the pressure off yourself! Don’t sit there going, “Well, how can I go to that school if I didn’t just feel it was right for me! There must be something wrong!” NO. If you get that feeling, great. If not, you just have more thinking to do.

Don’t worry yourself about not ‘knowing’ a school is ‘the one’.

3. Visualize

After you’ve been to a campus, toured a dorm room and seen the cafeterias and classrooms, sit alone for a while and visualize. Picture yourself using those facilities, walking through the streets. Do you like the city? Can you imagine yourself decorating that dorm room? And be honest with yourself. Again, this technique may not work for everyone, since there are so many unknowns in the picture, like new friends and classes. For now though, visualize as much as you can. Be true to who you are. Are the bathrooms too dirty for you?  If they are, make sure that you love the rest of the school more than you hate the bathrooms!

Try to picture yourself at the school, and observe your reactions.

4. Make a List

So you’ve done your research, visited the schools, and you still don’t know. That’s okay! Sometimes it takes more thought than that. It’s a huge decision and you, of course, want to make the right one. So put some energy into it. Make the most comprehensive pros and cons list you have ever made. Write down everything, even if it seems silly to you. You don’t have to show it to anyone, so don’t leave anything out for fear of judgment. Get it all down! All the stats you’ve looked at, how you felt when you were there, your visualizations, everything! If you’re making your decision over a couple days, start it and carry it around with you to add to it. Just keep listing.

Write down all the pros and cons of your options.

5. Talk It Out

So you’ve made your list. You still can’t decide. The next step is to talk it out with anyone who will listen. Parents, sisters, friends. Attack all of them with your urgent dilemma and make them listen. Explain your current thought process and dilemma to them, get their opinions. Sometimes they can surprise you by knowing more about you than you do. By talking it out, you’ll gain perspectives you didn’t have, and it might just help you to clarify what you really want.

Find someone who will listen, and get their opinion.

6. Step Back

It’s very important in this stressful time, to take a gigantic step back. You’re so caught up in all the little details about the softness of your rez bed or the kindness of new friends. And while these details are extremely important, you also need to make sure you look at the bigger picture. What are your goals in life? Why are you going to university, and how can a specific school fill that role? What is important to you? What have you always wanted and how can university help you achieve that?

I’ll give you an example: my decision. I was torn between Queen’s and McGill. Both are beautiful schools with lots of talented professors, friendly people and nice cities. I was really torn. I’d done all of the above tips, and nothing was helping. Then I thought about what I’d always wanted, all through high school: to get away! My entire high school career was focused on getting out, getting away from a few unfriendly faces. But when it came down to it, I was terrified that I would only know two people going to my new school, if I chose McGill. TWO! Versus approximately 35 at Queen’s. But then I stepped back. I realized that it was the fear that was talking. What I really wanted was to get away and make all new friends, international friends, but it was a terrifying thought. If I simply went to Queen’s, I’d have the comfort of many friendly faces. Fortunately, I remembered to look at the whole picture, swallow my fear and make the right decision. If I had gone to Queen’s, I’m sure I would have been happy, but McGill fits me like a glove. And guess what, at McGill there were tons of friendly faces, they were just new ones! :)

When you’re making your decision, stop and think about your life goals. How does a certain university fit those?

7. Take The Plunge

Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Getting to the point when you can say, confidently, which school you’re going to is very hard work, but it’s also exhilarating. Making this decision is the most empowering one you’ve probably ever made in your life, and it will feel good to say out loud where you’ve chosen. A couple of tips for biting the bullet:

  1. Never let fear be a reason for doing or not doing something. You’ll regret it more than anything else.
  2. Once you’ve made the decision, don’t worry if you still feel nervous and uneasy. You’ve done everything in your power to choose what’s right for you, and the anxiety you feel is the fear of something brand new and scary. University is unlike anything else, and it’s terrifying! But that’s okay, because everyone is going through the same thing. :)
  3. Always make sure your reasons are your own. It’s easy for parents and friends to accidentally (or on purpose) say what they think is best for you, and it’s easy for you to feel pressured by that. Before you make your final decision, ensure that you’re 100% doing it for you, and not because of any parental pressure, etc.
  4. Say it out loud. “I go to ______ University”. How does it feel? Are you giddy with excitement when you say it? Good sign.

Conclusion

Your university years are both great and impossible. You do more growth than you ever thought was possible (yes, even in just my first year) and everything changes. Choosing where you’ll spend these years is a big deal, but just remember: you’ll be happy at any university. They’re all great! They all have something to offer, and you’ll have fun at any one you attend. The important thing is figuring out which will make you happiest. I hope my tips helped you out, good luck with your decision!

Feedback?

What else did you do to make your decision? What strategies worked best for you? I’d love to hear about them :)

xoxo, S.


Sweet Darlin’

“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside.”

-Elton John

Well Elton you said it. I am experiencing quite a strange feeling. It’s not quite fear, not quite excitement. I’m not outwardly anxious, happy or afraid. Internally I am experiencing mild anxiety or stress, but I’m not overcome with it. Maybe that’s because if I thought about it too much I would lose it completely. There are some indications, hints at my current insanity. For example, my absent mindedness. In the past week I have left the stove on all morning, left the oven on all night, ordered a homeburger instead of a natureburger, lost approximately seven things and counting, found one of them, and then lost the list of things I’d lost. Fortunately I found that.

People say this is from the underlying stress of experiencing a grand transition.

I certainly hope so.

Otherwise, I appear to the untrained eye to be okay. I was speaking with my dad yesterday and realized that the thing I’m having the most trouble with is the fact that I don’t really know very much about where I’m going and therefore do not have much control over my situation. And that’s hard for me. Because while I don’t need to control other people’s behaviour, it’s difficult for me to experience a change over which I hold no control. It was bothering me a lot that this situation was completely unknown to me: don’t know my room, where my classes are, don’t have the meal plan figured out, yadda yadda yadda. It’s not so much anxiety over making friends, etc, it’s knowing that I have no control over who I’ll meet. I have no idea what is going to happen, and that is the scariest part by far.

Also on my mind is this idea of shifting relationships. In a few short days I am going to be far away from my friends and family, in a different city, province and headspace. My greatest fear of all is that I’ll return a stranger to my family and lose contact with my friends.

Not to mention school itself! I have spent so much time worrying about everything else that I haven’t given much thought to the workload itself, the hours spent studying, the reading, the labs, the stress. I just have to remember to keep my head down and work hard I guess.

I have been getting so many great words of advice from the wise people around me: parents, friends, sisters, colleagues. I am leaving so soon that I am at the point of inevitability. It is happening in three days and there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it.

Which is fairly terrifying in its own right.

Shawty What Cho Name Is

Well it’s Wednesday morning and I already have much on the agenda. In truth, I don’t have much to blog about so I’m just going to make a list of the books I plan to bring with me to University and why. Enjoy?

Also check out my Shelfari account for a (more) complete list of the books I’ve read or loved.

Hopefully that link works..very strange.

Okay so here we go. Books are extremely important to me, so it’s important that I bring at least some with me when I go away to school.

1. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. No matter that I can already practically quote the entire book, so much so that I no longer really need to read it, it remains one of my favourite books.

2. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. What turned me into a vegetarian. I think it’ll be important to have around in University perhaps to re-read when my stamina is low?

3. This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin. This guy is my psychology teacher! Not to mention the fact that I’ve wanted to read it for a while, but never did. Now that he’ll be my professor, I think it would be a good idea to read it. :)

4. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill. Set in Montreal, award winning, recommended by a good friend, Miss Claudia Catalina, who has impeccable taste. Check her out here.

5. 1000 Places to Go Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. To help me plan my next vacation/semester abroad/grand gap year while stuck in a tiny, freezing cold dorm room. But this dorm room will be in Montreal, which is beautiful in itself. So that’s okay then.

6. Blink & The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. These books are incredible. They changed the way I see the world and I’m sure I will re-read them multiple times throughout my University career.

Now for a few I haven’t yet read, but own:

7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

8. Netherland by Joseph O’Neill.

9. The World Without Us by Mark Weisman.

10. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

11. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee.

12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

13. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov.

14. No Logo by Naomi Klein.

15. Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut.

16. Bloodletting and the Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam.

17. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

And the book I’m currently reading:

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz.

So there we are. That’s quite a few books. I may have to edit down this list, otherwise I’ll be running out of room in my room before I get there. :)

Plans for today include Ikea, Forever 21, possibly MEC and Big Al’s aquarium. Yay!

xoxo, S.

Here’s Hoping

Today was rather melancholy. It consisted mainly of solitude: sad, weepy solitude, and pensiveness. Like Dumbledore. Oh, forget it.

I spent the day not doing a lot: woke up late, watched some Rich Bride Poor Bride. Cool fact! The episode I watched was of a wedding held at the same venue as my cousins’ wedding! I was there people! I had no idea it was a Canadian show but maybe that entire channel is Canadian and I am just oblivious. I emptied the dishwasher and vacuumed the front hall (Jasper is shedding like mad) and sprayed that poor puppy’s hotspots with some menthol spray that I actually don’t mind the smell of. Updated my iPod and set up my hard drive, whose name is Lacie.

Then I commenced what is possibly one of the saddest things I have ever done. I started cleaning and unpacking my desk/plastic sets of drawers, which of course were full of letters and notes and memories. There was music playing in the background and every song had a meaning for me, every song had a memory. I was getting overwhelmed at the thought of leaving my bedroom, my home, my family to start a brand new life, bringing only certain items with me. I started of course also getting hysterical, wondering about my future, what to bring, what to leave behind, what to throw out, did I do high school right, am I a bad friend, will I make the right sort of friends next year?????? All that funky jazz. It was exhausting to say the least, and I was in and out of periods of weepiness.

I spoke with my best friend Omar a couple times throughout the day, and he was feeling much the same way, not wanting to uproot himself once again after already making two big moves in his life: once from India and another time from Cairo. We were both upset.

I set up a new printer today that my mom got me; it also prints pictures (not well) and functions as a scanner, yippee! It’s white and cute. I am still trying to think of its name, so let me know if you have any ideas. We had dinner, chicken a la king but instead of chicken it was tilapia a la king. It was absolutely delicious.

After dinner, me and my mother had a breakdown together, she more than I this time. She’s really upset that I’m leaving.

I went to pick up Omar, and we came back to my house and (among other things) checked out apps for his phone, drank, and watched Planet Earth with my mom and sister.

All in all, it was a day. I gathered many necessary items together and put them in our spare room, so it gives me some sort of feeling of accomplishment. Which is actually nice, because I am constantly feeling like I’m forgetting something important. Here’s a little pic of my collection thus far: (!!!)

Photo 76

Anyways. I had a mostly good day. Here’s hoping that tomorow will be less stressful, and I’ll be gtd. Once again, I must continue working on my 101/1001 list, because I need it to be ready for when I leave. G’day folks!

xoxo S.

Scroll to Top