In a progressive world that is in active search of knowledge, a bachelor’s degree is synonymous with taking hold the first rung of the ladder. Everyone has the innate desire to acquire more educational degrees in a bid to accentuate the authenticity of his or her professionalism. Canada is one of the best hunting grounds for postgraduate studies due to many reasons; some of which may include favorable immigration policies and access to funding opportunities.
For many, securing admissions to some of the top Canadian universities with an assurance of a full scholarship or partial funding is a Herculean task; it requires diligence and dedication. That’s right!
These are some steps and tips that can help to ease the stress and steady your hands on the steering wheel as you kick-start this journey. It is important to note that this is not a Holy Grail; it is only meant to be a guide and whet your appetite before you plunge into more reading and studying.
1. Choose your Course Title
The world is filled with amazing opportunities; it is imperative for you to know what exactly you are looking for. Knowing the title of the course and your proposed area of specialization is the first point of call. The next move will be to embark on the look-out for where you can get what you want.
2. Match the Best Universities with your Course Title
Deliberate and rigorous research on the list of best universities that offer the courses that tickle your interest will be your next adventure. Look at the requirements of the universities for your preferred courses. Do you meet those requirements? Pick the best three universities based on factors such as the possibility of getting scholarship/funding, availability of requirements, the quality of your undergraduate results and the opportunities available for an industrial experience in the city.
Helpful tools are:
3. Craft a Compelling Statement of Purpose
This is the time to get to work; craft a persuasive Statement of Purpose (SOP) (some other universities call it Statement of Interest). Use a simple language, be clear in your expressions, avoid using long sentences, use active tenses, be direct and go straight to the point.
This is an opportunity for the reader (a potential supervisor) to meet you for the first time — give an excellent impression. Avoid irrelevancies and flowery words. Don’t take credit for whatever you did not do, don’t tell lies and don’t include statements about yourself that you cannot defend.
Consult the following resources:
4. Contact your potential supervisors
Pay a visit to the departmental website of your chosen course and search for lecturers that are spearheading research works in your area of interest. There is usually a link on university websites that show you where to get a supervisor for your graduate courses. This is an example of what obtains at the University of Toronto.
Address the SOP to the selected supervisors and send it to their respective email addresses; you can possibly attach some regular documents such as your transcript and resume. If you don’t get a response after five working days, you can try calling their office phones or resending the email.
This is a very important part of the application process because for the majority of universities in Canada securing a supervisor is almost tantamount to gaining admission. It is always good to get the consent of a supervisor before going ahead with the payment of the application fee and filling of forms on the online portal.
5. Make Inquiries about the Availability of Research Funding
If you get a response from a Professor and he/she is willing to take you in as a student. Congrats! You have successfully secured an advisor. You can go ahead to make inquiries from the Professor as to whether it is possible to be a beneficiary of a research funding and work as a research assistant. If you get a positive response as regards the funding, you will be required to work with your supervisor on a specified research topic. You just secured a job as a Graduate Research Assistant.
6. Search for Scholarships
If you can fund your program with your purse, you can commence the application process on the university portal since you have an advisor. If not, you should start searching for scholarships from the school or other international bodies.
With scholarships or self-funding, you can dictate the type of research topic you want to do under the supervision of your advisor.
7. Commence Visa Applications
When the admission is secured and you have been issued your admission letter, you can start the application for a visa. Conduct solid research on how to apply for visas, endeavor to pay attention to all instructions and provide all the required documents as specified in the brochure.
Tips and Misconceptions
- As against the rules in the US, not all Canadian universities require English proficiency tests from all nationalities. During your background check before concluding on your applications to the two universities, check the list of countries exempted from doing the proficiency tests. For instance, if you are a graduate from Nigeria, you don’t need an English proficiency test to gain admission into the University of Manitoba for graduate studies. Nigeria is on the exemption list on the University’s website.
- Start as early as possible and be well-acquainted with the deadlines for the Winter semester (January), Summer (May) and Fall (September). Note: Not all universities have openings in the summer term; the predominant entry times for the majority of courses in universities are Winter and Fall semesters.
- Use simple words in your SOP and avoid the use of verbose grammar. It is also important to note that there is every likelihood that your potential supervisor is not a native speaker of English language. Excessive show-off of unnecessary adjectives and adverbs can be a huge turn-off for someone who receives hundreds of emails every day.
- Whether in the body of the email or in your SOP, always put your best foot forward. Start with your strong points and what you think will give you an advantage over others. It is competitive! So, start well.
- If you are the recipient of a funding, don’t expect to get the bulk of the money at once. For instance, if you get a funding that states that you will be paid a sum of $18,000 per year, it means that you will get an average of $1,500 every month. Sometimes, you may need to pay for your school fees in installments from this amount and use the remaining for your upkeep.
- If you are not sure of any step or procedure in your application process, ask questions via emails. Don’t rush, take your time and make sure you are making the right decisions all the time.
- You can use agencies for your applications and processing if you are comfortable with their work. I don’t have any experience in this regard, so it limits my recommendation. I believe that you can do this yourself if you will just ask Google as many questions as possible.
Samuel Osho is a professional mechanical engineer, seasoned writer and creative thinker. He frequently writes on topics that aids creativity, stimulates personal development, initiates an excellent spirit in you and empowers you to be in control of your time. He is a thought leader who offers his opinions on controversial socio-political issues. Some of his works have been published by The Cable, The ScoopNG, YNaija and many others. You can connect with Sam via LinkedIn .