Know where you're going: how can help you

By Sarah Terry


No matter where you live, you've probably heard all about Canada's biggest and most well-known universities. When I was a secondary student, these seemed to be the only options I had in choosing a future school. The guidance counsellor at my high school gave students a general overview of the requirements needed to get into these schools - math and science, English and upper level electives.

As general requirements, those were fine, but when I got to university, to say that I was overwhelmed is a bit of an understatement. I found out that the program I was taking at the school I had chosen were not what I had expected at all, and with a little more research and information beforehand, I could have avoided the loss of time and money that were the result of that first year.

You want to keep your options open, and choose courses that will give you a shot at as many of your programs of interest as possible. But how do you know what each school expects of you, and what schools should you apply to, anyway?

Research: searching by program

Researching your options doesn't have to involve long car trips with your parents to stay in faraway dorms in schools you may only vaguely know about. Despite what you may have heard, you don't have to go through a year of general arts studies before moving on to the fashion design courses you were really out to take in the first place. has several tools you can use to meet your needs. Searching by program will give you an idea of schools that offer the program you're looking for and the degrees offered.

For instance: you really want to study Spanish. If you search for Spanish programs on, all the programs available in Canada will be listed, including Spanish for Tourism, Spanish Literature and Society, Business Spanish and others. You see that there is a Bachelor in Spanish offered at Acadia University, one of the schools that interests you.

If you click on this program, you can see the grade requirements, in this case 70%, and the prerequisites particular to Spanish.

What's really great about this page is that it works as a gateway to all the information you need to apply to this program. You will know what the requirements are, the cost of the program per year, how many scholarships are offered, and you can even take an e-Tour™ of the school.

More research: searching by career

What will you do with your Spanish degree? You want to plan for a career and you want to know what it takes to get there.

Searching by career on is a great tool to help you find a program that will lead you to your ultimate goal: being a dental hygienist.

If you go to SchoolFinder's Career Index, there is a listing for Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists. If you click on the Requirements option, everything you need to become a dental hygienist is provided, including the courses you will find helpful in secondary school.

Now you need a program. On the right side of the page, under Related Links, there are Related Schools. All the schools listed here provide the program you're looking for. Pretty useful, huh? Just click on the school that interests you, then click on Programs and you're on your way.

The almighty Advanced School Search

Maybe all this is a little too general for you. You want to go to a college that offers diplomas in Culinary Arts in Ontario, and isn't too big - maybe 2,000 to 5,000 students.

The Advanced Search will allow you to find the schools that fit this description with one click.

Once again, the Program Details page in each school profile will allow you to see the prerequisites you need to get in.

You can also use the above search methods to find schools outside of Canada including schools in Australia and New Zealand. By visiting the Study Abroad page, you can see the types of schools listed for each country.

All of these methods are not meant to replace the valuable campus tour and visit, however. Seeing your future school is a great way to visualize (or not visualize) yourself actually taking classes there.

If you click on the Facilities option in each school profile, there is a section called "Campus Tours" that will tell you how to arrange a visit. This can also be an opportunity to meet up with a counsellor at your school of choice to discuss the courses you should take before applying.

The information on can be a great starting point, though. Using it as a tool to narrow down your choices and plan your courses according to what you want to do can be extremely helpful.

Modified on April 23, 2009