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Call of the North

Call of the North

By Sarah Thornton

January 23, 2017

 

As of last Friday, the United States officially ceded control of all three branches of government to the G.O.P. As a result, many politically-aware U.S. high school students are looking at international options for their 2017-2018 university studies. Canada’s reputation for multiculturalism and civil political discourse, as well as its relative proximity to the U.S., makes study here an attractive option. Indeed, Canada is an excellent choice for those U.S. students looking for an elite international education that’s not too far from home. Study at one of Canada’s top universities can also be an incredible launchpad for further travel and global citizenship.

However, there are an enormous number of things to consider before applying anywhere as an international student, and applying to study in Canada is no exception. International students must navigate immigration policy, cultural differences, academic expectations, and urban/rural campus life. If you are thinking about applying to any of Canada’s universities, this article provides a good starting point as you consider whether or not Canada would be a good fit for you personally and academically, and perhaps, later on, professionally.

Canadaland is, in many important ways, very different from the U.S. and, depending on who you are, those differences may greatly influence your academic success in the “the 51st state.” An undergraduate or graduate degree from a Canadian university can create lots of opportunity for you in a country with a different set of political and cultural priorities than the U.S. And, yes, studying in Canada is a great way to get started on the road to permanent residency or dual-citizenship.

 

The Undergraduate Experience:

Decidedly less political. Decidedly more polite.

  • Shorter semesters.

13-week rather than 16-week semesters.

  • Ivy League professors accessible at public universities.

A look at any departmental website will show a huge number of professors who earned their Ph.D.’s at elite schools in the U.S. and then came to Canada to teach.

  • No Greek system except at UBC.

-­ This doesn’t mean campus life is boring! It just means that the social life of most universities tends to be focused in social and academic clubs, and sports.

  • No federal oversight of public universities.

Provincial governments have oversight over these universities and so policy administration varies from province to province. In practical terms, this means that there are no Title IX protections based on gender, and funding for public universities varies significantly.

  • Currently, immigration to Canada is still relatively easy.

The U.S. and Canada are great economic allies and because of this student visas are relatively easy to obtain. This may change depending on how the relationship develops between Prime Minister Trudeau and the new U.S. President.

  • Political protests on Canadian universities tend to focus on global issues rather than issues commonly found in U.S. politics.

Black Lives Matter and activism around sexual assault on campus were definitely issues at many Canadian universities in 2016. In addition to protests over domestic politics, because of the number of international students, many of the politics found on Canadian university campuses represent students’ intimate understanding of global issues.

The Graduate School Experience: “Don’t get isolated up there.”

-My undergrad mentor, on hearing that I had been accepted to an M.A. program at U.B.C.

  • Great funding and elite mentorship but at less well-known universities.

This is a major consideration for students working toward a professorship or some kind of tenured academic position after completing their graduate work.

  • Graduate study provides major opportunities for international travel.

About a half dozen of Canada’s universities are on the list of the world’s top 200 universities. This means that completed graduate work at one of these universities can open the doors to work and further study in some European Union states, which are notoriously difficult to emigrate to.

  • U.S. Stafford and GradPlus loans are still available for study at Canadian universities.

Often, study at a Canadian university will come with a decent-sized funding package, but depending on where your university is, it may or may not cover the cost of living expenses, especially Vancouver or Toronto.

  • Your Canadian tuition may be less than your domestic U.S. tuition.

 – Canadian public universities offer really democratic tuition rates, and the conversion rate of the U.S. Dollar to Canadian Dollar might mean that you pay significantly less for your graduate degree.

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Radical New Teaching Methods put the Student In Charge

This month’s issue of Wired Magazine addresses an interesting and growing trend in the Education space, one where access to technology is driving the way students learn around the world. The New York Times recently talked about how Clintondale High School in Detroit is turning the traditional educational model upside down by having students do their learning on their own time, and bringing their homework into the classroom. Now, Wired magazine is discussing how the information revolution has helped students carve their own learning path. The insight behind it?

…IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE CONTROLLING YOUR LEARNING, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO LEARN AS WELL.

Read the full article here: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

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Huffington Post’s 6 College Admissions Myths

Take a look through last week’s Huffington Post article about the six myths you shouldn’t fall for during the college admissions process. You may tell yourself that you may have a good chance of getting in on standardized test scores alone, but think again.

As our US College Admissions specialists will tell you, you can’t wait until your Grade 11 or Grade 12 year to start the application process:

“Your application process begins when you start high school, not when you begin your senior year. In your first year, you should develop an academic plan with tangible goals, as well as the appropriate strategies necessary to succeed. You will need to use all four years of high school to become an applicant who is well-rounded and well-matched to the schools you choose.”

Take a look at the article here to learn more about very common mistakes made during the process.

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Common Application woes cause additional anxiety for students

The updates to this year’s Common Application is causing stress for students and schools alike. Typically used as a blanketed (or common) application for a number of US Colleges, the Common App recently had a face lift… causing technological stress and other dysfunction to the online site.

“Problems became evident as soon as the application was released in August, including some confusing wording that was later changed. Students who thought they had finished the application found that it was incomplete because questions had been added after its release. As changes were made, some who had started their applications early found themselves locked out of the system.”

With early application deadlines fast approaching, Common App is trying to fix glitches in formatting, payment and submission. Since the application process is focused on attention to detail, the glitches are taking that control away from students as essays appear garbled or missing characters on screen. Admissions officers at schools are also feeling the burden of the late release, saying that they may have to add extra staff in order to release early acceptance decisions in December.

Read the full NY Times article here: Online Application Woes Makes Students Anxious and Put Schools Behind Schedule

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New York Times article addresses the role of technology in education

How much can technology effect education? A New York Times article discusses innovation and disruption within education in a recent Opinion Blog, “Turning Education Upside Down”.

What would happen if students watched their lectures at home via video, and came into the classroom to do their homework? One Detroit school found out last year: Clintondale High School  found they were able to raise class averages, decrease failure rates and increase percentage of their students graduating.

“After 20 weeks, Scheel’s flipped students, despite their disadvantages, were outperforming the students in the traditional classroom. No student in the flipped class received a grade lower than a C+. The previous semester 13 percent had failed. This semester, none did.”
 

Read the full article here.

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Why all education consultants are not the devil

In recent years, education consulting has emerged as a growing trend throughout the US and Canada. This is a result of the increase in the number of college applicants and the highly selective acceptance numbers that some top institutions boast. Not to mention that parents are dedicated to ensuring their child has the best possible chance of getting into a top tier school.

So what do good consultants do? They take the time to get to know their students. Here at Rasul Learning Group, we have a hands on, personalized approach to tutoring, application, essay writing, course planning and standardized test prep. It is important to note that good education consultants give honest advice, empower students to be more self-aware, answer questions thoughtfully, do their research about schools, regions, academics and programming, and be knowledgeable when giving advice to students.

Good education consultants work in conjunction with high school college counselors in schools, they don’t interfere with them. School counselors have a very important role in a student’s life, it is just not the same role that education consultant plays. Counselors have an entire class of students to focus on, so while they can send transcripts, suggest teacher recommendations and navigate the school, they don’t always have time to spend get to know each student’s passions, strengths and academic aspirations. Education consultants, on the other hand, can provide the personalized time and support in order to empower students.

At Rasul Learning Group, we are dedicated to working with high school counselors in order to ensure our students thrive during the college and university application process. For more information on our services, please reach out to hello@rasullearning.ca. We look forward to this year’s application season!

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Top Entrepreneurial Colleges in the US

The Princeton Review recently released a list of the Top Entrepreneurial Colleges in the US. Based on a survey of best undergraduate and graduate programs, Babson College has the strongest entrepreneurial academic programming for undergraduates, while University of Michigan at Ann Arbor tops the list of best graduate programs. The Princeton Review has released this list every year since 2006, and this is the first year at Harvard has made the rankings.

For the complete list of Princeton Review’s Top Entrepreneurial Colleges, please click here.

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Selectivity in US Schools not always based on accurate stats

We recently included a post on the Rasul Learning Group blog about how the official university and college rankings list can leave some questions unanswered. In this article by the Washington Post, it is clear that schools can even manipulate their rankings. By including certain metrics such as unfinished applications, US universities and colleges can appear to be more selective. While colleges are becoming more and more accountable for “scrubbing” their stats, it is still an issue in the US system.

It is important to keep these things in mind when looking at all official lists, since acceptance rate is a largely used metric in ranking schools.

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