Better late than never

by Ashleigh Viveiros


Better late than never. That could be the motto of every student who ever waited until, say, one week after high school graduation to decide they wanted to go on to post-secondary education.

If you're one of those students who were a little slow on the draw when it came to figuring out your post-high school future, take heart: it's not too late to find a university or college to go to this fall.

Although many students applied for their school/program of choice months ago, and, indeed, some program deadlines have long past, you might be surprised to learn that many schools accept students in certain programs right up until a week or two before classes begin in September.

If there's room - and some schools accept hundreds of students for first-year studies - and you meet all the basic entrance requirements, getting accepted to a school in July is just as good as finding out you were accepted way back in May. Again, better late than never.

Finding these last-minute spots, though, will require some work on your part. You'll need to check with your prospective schools to find out if they do, in fact, have room for more students. Go online to the school's website and do some digging - many schools will state right there which programs are still looking for students. You could also give the school's admissions office a call, or stop by to talk with one of their academic counsellors to see what options are available to you, the last-minute potential student.

In some provinces, a specialized admissions centre keeps track of which universities or colleges have room in their undergraduate programs. In Ontario, for example, you can check out the Ontario Universities' Application Centre's Admission Information Service. Simply go to the website's referral service section and plug in the necessary information (program type, your GPA, etc.) to find out what programs are still open to you. Do some research to see if your province has a similar service.

But let's say you had your heart set on a specific program at a specific school - one for which you missed the application deadline or all the available spaces are filled. What then? Well, in that case, as a savvy student wannabe, there are still a few tricks you can try.

First, you might want to consider applying to a similar program at another school - one that still has lots of room - and then trying to transfer into the program at your first-choice school next year. That way, you'll still get a lot of your first-year courses (which are often transferable between schools - but make sure) and will come to the admissions table next year armed with a little more experience than the next applicant.

Similarly, if you can't get into a specialized program of study at your school of choice, another good route to try is to apply for a more general studies program (say, arts, or general science) at the same school and, again, get all your basic first-year courses out of the way before reapplying to your first-choice program next year.

There are also a few other options out there for latecomers. You could check to see if your program accepts students for a winter term start, and apply accordingly. Part-time studies may also be a good route to go - that way, you can at least still get some of the courses you'll need once you start your program full-time next school year.

If you're not happy with any of these options, and are at all worried about the quality of your high school grades, you could always spend next school year retaking a few high school courses to boost your average up for next year's intake session.

Whatever route you follow, just keep at it. Set your sights on a post-secondary education, and just keep plugging away at it until you get there.

Modified on April 23, 2009