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Admission Criteria for U.S. and Canadian Universities

High school graduates planning to pursue postsecondary education need to research the admission criteria of the universities they are considering. Schools’ requirements vary, in terms of academic standards and other factors.

Your list of potential universities may include institutions in the United States and Canada. The admission criteria of colleges in the two countries have quite a few common components, but there are some differences that students should know.

Common Criteria

Admission officials in both countries place a high value on applicants’ academic performance, as indicated by their high school grade-point average. Minimum standards are often in place, disqualifying students with bad grades.

In the United States and Canada, a student’s application packet must contain a high school transcript, detailing classes taken and grades received; essays, which may include a “personal statement”; a list of extracurricular activities, jobs, and community service; and letters of recommendation from counselors, teachers, employers, or others.

The Canadian System

A major difference between the two countries is that, in Canada, admission criteria are set on the provincial level (rather than by individual institutions).

A student’s grade-point average as a senior in high school is the most important factor in gaining admission to a university. In some provinces, 11th-grade GPAs also count. Most universities accept students with GPAs of 70 percent, though some provinces set the bar higher. The grade requirement is often less demanding for in-province students than for those who live in another province.

Universities in Canada, as well as the United States, mandate that students pass exams to prove their literacy or language proficiency. This generally involves fluency in English, though exclusively French-speaking students are accepted by postsecondary institutions in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Applicants need to understand that the term “college” does not have the same definition in both countries. When Canadians speak of a college, they are referring to an institution similar to the community colleges and technical schools found in the United States. Students who attend such colleges often are pursuing two-year associate’s degrees or certificates in specific careers. While Canadian colleges also offer bachelor’s degrees, none of them have master’s programs. The word “university” is used for the same type of school in each nation.

In their applications to Canadian universities, students must declare a program. The usual choices are sciences, the arts, and business. Within each category are multiple majors, but students are not expected to immediately choose one.

A high school diploma or general-equivalency degree is a standard requirement of universities in both nations. In Canada, though, students older than 25 years of age (who have been out of school for at least two years) are eligible to apply for admission, even without having graduated from high school. Officials consider their intellectual maturity, interests, employment history, and financial need.

A student at a Canadian university must perform at least 40 hours of community service or volunteer work as a condition of earning a degree. U.S. schools impose no such mandate.

Unlike in the United States, applying to a university in Canada does not entail a lot of competition with other students. There are a limited number of placements in any program, and some types of degrees are more highly sought than others. However, most students find it relatively easy to be accepted by the school of their choice.

The U.S. System

In the United States, the “common application” makes it simple to send information to admission officials at multiple universities. Students may apply to as many institutions as they like. Most colleges and universities admit students to the school, rather than to a degree program.

The fact that each university determines its own admission criteria makes the application process a bit more complicated than the Canadian system. For instance, some schools accept only students with high GPAs. Applicants to U.S. universities must submit their SAT or ACT scores, for which an institution alsomight impose minimum standards.

The portion of applicants accepted by a university varies widely in the United States, from less than 10 percent to near 100 percent. Admission staff sometimes waive some of the academic criteria for students who demonstrate financial need, athletic prowess, or other characteristics. A person of color may be accepted in part because a university is striving to meet student-diversity goals.

Students and their parents are advised to begin their university searches as early as the junior year in high school. They need to set their priorities, research potential institutions, and be sure to meet application deadlines. Understanding universities’ admission criteria is essential, especially when schools in the United States as well as Canada are being considered.

Top Study Abroad Programs

Studying abroad has become a norm for students hoping to travel the world, broaden their career goals, understand different cultures, develop their interpersonal skills, and gain newer skill sets for a successful career path ahead.

Globalize yourself by studying in a foreign setting. Expand your horizons and explore different cultures, world-views, and communities by immersing yourself in a study abroad program.

What Can Study Abroad Programs Offer?
The answer differs from program to program. Some study abroad programs are designed to directly immerse yourself in their foreign culture and language with various co-curricular activities; some employ hands on experience with activities that ease you into a culture shock; while others involve rigorous study of foreign history and visits to different communities and cultural monuments.

What Can You Gain From a Study Abroad Program?
By selecting the right program, one that fits your personality and which you believe will help you achieve your career goals, you can:

  • Broaden the scope of your career, its path, and goals.
  • Develop extensive interpersonal skills by interacting with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and belief systems
  • Forces you from your comfort zone. Studying abroad forces you to accept real life challenges of re-situating in a different country and environment, and as a result, significantly boosts your self-confidence.
  • Creates a sense of individuality —interacting with people from a different culture forces you see your culture and yourself in a different light.

Top Study Abroad Programs of the World
NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, the programs use English as their language of instruction

Program Name Located in Majors Offered Available Semesters(Fall, Summer, Spring, and Academic Year)
American College Dublin(Direct Enrollment & Exchange) Dublin , Ireland
  • History
  • Business management
  • Liberal Arts/Humanities
  • Acting
  • Dance
  • Hospitality management
  • English Literature
  • International Business
  • Finance/Accounting
ALL
CEA 

 

Instruction language: French and English

Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Liberal Arts/Humanities
  • Communication Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Social Science
  • Education
  • Business
  • Foreign Language
ALL
Fairfield University Florence, Itally
  • Liberal Arts/Humanities
Fall, Spring, and Academic.
Sol Education Abroad:  Latin University of Costa Rica

 

Instruction language: Spanish only

Heredia, Costa Rica
  • International Studies, Spanish
  • Communication Studies
  • Spanish
  • Liberal Arts/Humanities
  • Fine Arts
  • Psychology
  • Bilingual Education
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latin American Studies and Spanish
  • Business
ALL Plus,

  • Custom length semesters
  • January Terms
  • May-mester
  • Spring Break semesters

 

AMIDEAST Rabat, Morocco
  • International Development And Social Change
  • Political Science
  • International Affairs
  • International Politics
  • Anthropology/Sociology
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • African Studies
  • Foreign Language
Fall, Spring, and Academic
European Study Center, Heidelberg: EU Studies, European Business, and IR Heidelberg, Germany
  • International Relations
  • European Studies
  • International Business
ALL
AIRC Rome:Interdisciplinary Semesters

 

Instruction Language: Italian and English

 

Rome, Italy
  • Communication Studies
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Multimedia Journalism
  • Journalism
  • Liberal Arts/Humanities
  • Architecture
  • Film Studies
Fall, Summer, and  Spring
Semester at Sea: University of Virginia International Seas
  • Humanities and Global Affairs
Fall and Spring
Academic Programs International: University Autonoma of Barcelona Barcelona, Spain
  • Spanish
  • International Business & Marketing
  • International Business/Spanish
  • Economics and International Relations
ALL

Why you should consider studying overseas

Being far from home is never easy, especially if it is for the first time, which is often the case for many college students. Each year, many people travel to different countries to pursue their career goals. For some this can be challenging. Apart from the fact that college education comes with its own set of difficulties, you will have additional factors to think about if planning to study abroad. Some of these include:

  • The cost of airfare
  •  Finding suitable accommodations if you will not be living on campus
  • Learning your way around a new country
  • Adapting to cultural differences

These are just a few of the issues you will likely face if you decide to study overseas. This is not an easy decision to make for many students and their families. However, studying is sometimes the best move not only for the educational factor, but also for your career prospects. Other reasons why you should consider studying overseas are:

Exposure to a Different Culture

This is one of the main reasons many prospective students choice to go to a college abroad. You may learn a new language, try cuisine you never even thought of trying, or you may find that you now like a different genre of music. Whatever the result, your outlook on life will change and you come away with a different view of the world.

Increased Networking Opportunities

Most people make vital, lifelong contacts while in college. Contacts in a foreign country could prove useful to you as you embark on your career path. This could also be good for any company you work for, especially if the job requires that you travel.

It Can Improve Your Marketability

In the global environment that exists today, experience in foreign countries is something many employers seek. This can boost the quality of your résumé significantly, making it easier to find a job when you leave school. Studying in a foreign country will show your prospective employer that you can adapt to change. The company may ask you to attend meetings or seminars abroad, or to represent it in some other capacity.

Other Benefits to Studying Overseas

One of the main things about this type of study is that it gives you the opportunity to travel. Sometimes being far away from your family might be the best thing for you. You will develop a sense of independence, while making new contacts and developing an international perspective. You will probably meet people from all over the world who could become lifelong friends.

Although you may have concerns about the quality of the training available in foreign countries, you can put these to rest. Many colleges around the world provide quality undergraduate and graduate programs. If you are thinking about studying in a foreign country, take the time to research different colleges before making a decision. In your research, pay attention to the following:

  • The types of facilities available
  • If financial aid is available for foreign students or even if your home country will fund your studies
  • Are there internship opportunities and will the school assist you in finding placements
  • What kinds of social clubs and activities are available
  • What kind of medical services are available and the cost

While college ranking is important, it should not be your main priority when researching and selecting a college overseas. These rankings alone will not offer the complete picture about a college. Some study abroad programs allows you to spend just a set number of semesters overseas and then you can transfer to your home country to complete your studies. For many students, this format gives them the best of two worlds.

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