Navigating post secondary education in Ontario

By: Josephine Naghavie

Published on: June 21st, 2024

Photo Courtesy: Zetong Li (Pexels)

Beginning post-secondary education in Ontario can be an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavour, filled with opportunities and challenges.

Below are some helpful tips to make this process more practical and enjoyable to ensure you achieve your educational goals.

Understanding Ontario’s education landscape

Ontario’s post-secondary education system is diverse, encompassing universities, colleges, and apprenticeship programs.

Universities generally offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs focusing on academic and professional education. Ontario colleges provide diploma, certificate, and degree programs, emphasizing hands-on, practical training and career-oriented education. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom learning, leading to certification in skilled trades.

Understanding individual interests and goals is the first important step in navigating the future and finding the right program.

Choosing the right institution and program

Selecting the right institution and program is crucial. Future students should consider factors such as programs offered, campus culture, location, size, and available support services. Researching and visiting institutions, attending open houses, and speaking with current students and faculty can provide valuable insights into your future school.

Admission requirements also vary based on the program and school. Universities typically assess applicants based on their academic performance in high school, particularly in prerequisite courses, while colleges may also consider work experience and other criteria.

Meeting deadlines, preparing for standardized tests if required, and creating a compelling application, including personal statements and letters of recommendation, are critical steps.


Understanding the financial aspect of post-secondary education is essential. Ontario offers various financial aid options, including scholarships, bursaries, grants, and student loans.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a key resource that provides financial support based on students’ personal needs. While you will be required to pay back the portion that is a loan, OSAP also offers grants that you do not have to pay back.

Scholarships from different institutions, community organizations, and private foundations are also available. Scholarships are typically awarded to students based on academic achievements or other criteria, including requiring financial assistance or attending a specific program.

Applying early to financial aid resources and exploring scholarship options can alleviate the monetary pressures accompanying education aspirations. 

Career planning and academic success

Many Ontario post-secondary institutions offer career planning services and work-integrated learning opportunities, such as co-op programs, internships, and field placements. These experiences provide practical skills, workplace exposure, and networking opportunities, facilitating smoother transitions into the workforce.

Achieving academic success involves more than attending lectures and completing assignments. Utilizing academic support services such as tutoring centres, writing labs, and study skills workshops can enhance learning. Time management, effective study strategies, and seeking help when needed are crucial for academic success.

Campus life and support services

While post-secondary education can be overwhelming, having fun and engaging in campus life and extracurricular activities is important. Participating in clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, and leadership programs can build skills, create friendships, and enhance employability. Balancing academics with extracurricular activities can be challenging but is essential for a well-rounded educational experience.

Many schools in Ontario offer support services like counselling, health services, and financial advising. Proactively seeking support and utilizing these resources is vital for personal and academic well-being. Ontario schools also provide preparation for graduation and beyond, helping students prepare for the transition into the workplace or further education. This includes engaging with career services for resume building, interview preparation, job search strategies, and considering graduate studies or professional certifications.

Navigating post-secondary education can be frightening at first and requires planning, but it is a new and fun experience that can enrich your life skills, friendships, and personal experiences.

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