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Thinking About College in Canada?

I recently had the opportunity to attend the SuperACAC conference in Phoenix, Arizona. As a proud Canadian, what pleasantly surprised me most was how many Canadian universities participated in the college fair and the targeted presentations, confirming their commitment to increasing the volume of applications they receive from the United States. All-in-all the participating universities included the University of British Columbia, Ryerson University, The University of Waterloo, The University of Toronto, and McGill University.


The University of British Columbia presented about Varsity athletics in Canadian universities and it was interesting to discover how different the rules are for Canadian Varsity athletes when compared to NCAA athletes. U Sports (usports.ca) is the name of the governing body for university sports in Canada. When comparing themselves to NCAA Divisions, they stressed that Canadian varsity sports can be equated to NCAA Division 1.5. Interestingly though, Simon Fraser University is a member of the NCAA. One distinct difference that can’t be overlooked is the fact that Canadian Varsity athletes can sign endorsement deals without violating any U Sports rules. An extra bonus for international students who study in Canada is that they can work part time while they study, incorporate paid work into their course of study and legally remain and work in the country for up to three years after graduation.


Students at the University of British Columbia are members of a community of 44,000 undergraduate students from 162 countries. Located 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the UBC campus is located near the ocean and surrounded by a beautiful rainforest. The natural beauty can’t be beat! UBC offers 41 undergraduate degree programs and 73% of its students in a co-op program, study abroad, research, or exchange program. The Faculty of Engineering offers majors in Biomedical Engineering, Computer & Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and more plus various business degrees and a computer science degree from the School of Arts and Sciences. Located in the Pacific Time Zone and only 2 hours by plane from San Francisco, UBC is perfect for students who live on the west coast of the United States.


Ryerson University is making a big push as an entrepreneurial hub at the intersection of business and technology while leveraging their downtown Toronto campus location in the heart of Canada’s business capital. The DMZ, Ryerson’s business incubator, is ranked as one of the top university incubators in North America. With 133 partner universities across 37 countries, Ryerson is committed to continuing to grow its global presence. Although Ryerson’s international student community is small, it is steadily growing.


Waterloo has staff permanently based on the West Coast of the United States as they continue to leverage their exceptional reputation in Silicon Valley as a tech university which isn’t surprising since Waterloo has the largest engineering school in Canada with over 10,000 students enrolled in 2018. The School of Engineering is a big supporter of giving their students exposure to a business education as well with options to learn entrepreneurship and conduct a capstone project that melds engineering and business thinking. Over 700 start-us have ties to the University of Waterloo. One year of study at Waterloo for an international student, room and board and other expenses included, is estimated to cost approximately US$35,000 which is slightly less than the in-state cost to attend a University of California campus. At Waterloo, the most popular majors for American applicants are Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering.


The University of Toronto continues to leverage its position as the top school in Canada, boasting 700 undergraduate programs and the second largest worldwide volume of research produced at a research university. Toronto is a safe, cosmopolitan city that welcomes people from every corner of the globe so international students adapt quickly to life at U of T. The downtown location is particularly appealing to internationals who want to live in the heart of a big city surrounded by 88,000 students. International fees for the University of Toronto are quite high compared to their Canadian peers. For example, one year of study in the Faculty of Engineering starts at US$44,282 for international students. This would take cost savings out of the equation for most American applicants.


McGill University is located in one of my favourite cities: Montreal. If spending your undergraduate years in a little piece of Europe (in North America) appeals to you, you will love McGill. Granted the winters can be tough but Fall, Spring and Summer are gorgeous. More importantly, the university is internationally respected with students from over 150 countries. McGill’s entering first-year students boast the highest average high school entry GPA of any Canadian institution and McGill proudly claims 145 Rhodes Scholars as their alums. With 41,000 students and 300 programs of study across two campuses, there is something for everyone at McGill. International students also feel at home here with 31% of McGill students hailing from outside Canada.


Every Canadian university was playing up the cost factor at the SuperACAC conference since with the current Canadian Dollar exchange rates, four years of study at an elite Canadian university may provide significant cost savings when compared to four years at their peer schools in the United States. Coupled with English language instruction and degrees that are fully recognized in the United States I think we will continue to see more and more American and International students choose Canada when deciding where to spend their four years of undergraduate life.


As a University of Toronto Alum and a proud Torontonian/Canadian I would encourage everyone to seriously consider applying to and attending a Canadian university. Adapting to life in Canada, as an American teenager, is not hard. While some cities do suffer with some challenging winter weather, the opportunities to study internationally on multicultural and diverse cosmopolitan campuses can’t be beat. And your degree, education and experiences are fully recognized in the United States!


Happy Canada Day Everyone!



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