Admissions 101: picking your programs

Bria Hughes


"But how do I know which program is right for me?" If you find yourself asking this question, you're not alone! As a recent graduate of Ontario Tech, I can assure you that we've all been there. I myself began my studies in one program and graduated from another!

Life throws curveballs, new interests develop and destinations change. So when you're picking your program, it's okay if you change your mind later. But of course, you do have to pick one (or a few) to apply to. Keep reading to hear some advice on how to pick which program(s) to apply to. 


Research is a word few of us get excited about. But it's an important first step when making life decisions. Going in blind is fun for some things, but not when choosing a major. Giving yourself as much information as possible is the best way to be more confident in your decision. However, you can read every webpage possible and still change your mind later, and that's still okay. 


Researching your interests and what programs align with them is the first step in picking which ones to apply to. You can't apply to something you don't know about! Not sure where to begin? We've got you covered in our blog about, you guessed it, researching universities

Build a list and compare

Once you have researched some programs and universities, it's time to build a list. It can be a simple pros and cons list, or it can be in greater detail. However you do it, you'll want to outline each university and program you're interested in and identify reasons why it's a good fit and reasons why it's not. This is important so you can lay out your options and see them for what they are. Not sure how to start? Download our comparison chart!

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Some questions you may want to ask yourself as you are looking include:

  • If there's a great program at a school that's far away, am I willing to relocate?
  • If there's a great university with a mediocre program for a topic I'm passionate about, would I be satisfied?
  • If there's a great program but few opportunities for hands-on learning, would I be okay with that?

Asking yourself these questions may seem silly, but they do matter. So, make a list of all the programs you're interested in and start comparing them. 

Narrow down your options

After doing your research and comparing your notes, it's time to narrow down your options. Eliminate the programs/universities that have features you are unwilling to compromise on. For example, if you do not want to relocate, a four-hour commute in the middle of winter is unrealistic when you have an 8 a.m. class every Monday. Similarly, if there is a university down the street that doesn't have a program you're excited about, you may decide it isn't the best option for you. 

For the base fee of $150, you can apply to three programs through the Ontario Universities Application Centre, but you can add additional programs for $50 each. A good rule of thumb is to apply to three to five programs and at least two different universities. This allows for a diversity of options, but not too many. 

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Applying to university is a big step. It's normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed during the process. It's important to remember that there is support available for you during this time. You can reach out to friends, guidance counsellors and, of course, Ontario Tech for help.

Still have admission-related questions?

Check out our Admissions 101 series!


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