“I just googled and it’s like ranked #33 on the US News and World Report college ranking list,” my friend Kavya replied after I told her where I’m hoping to attend university next fall. “And they accept like everyone from our school. Why Canada?”
My response is automatic. “I was born and raised there,” I tell her. But with the seven second attention span we all have nowadays, I’ve already lost her attention. I quickly open my mouth to repeat myself in order to give her an explanation of my college choice, but then I realize how many times I’ve had to answer that exact same question. Many other SAS applicants to non-US colleges struggle with this same problem. It’s time to address the question “Why Canada.”
Julia Walker, a current senior and soon-to-be Dalhousie University freshman, provides some reasoning as to why she thinks not as many students apply to Canada. “I think that students at SAS don’t always see what Canadian schools have to offer. I feel SAS builds up American universities so much that they overshadow other universities in other countries. Canada has great programs and schools. Even for international students, the fees aren’t as high as some American schools. But I really think it comes down to not having knowledge about Canadian schools.”
Julia applied to universities there because she’s Canadian and has known all along that Canada holds some of the best universities in the world for those looking for a great education.
And who better to judge the quality of education in one of the Canadian Universities than one of our own?
Suzy Kim, an SAS alum, talks about her experiences at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. “I can tell you that I’m actually really liking it here. I don’t know what it’s like in the other faculties, but I’m in Sauder (School of Business) and the people here are really nice. Everybody’s from all over the world so you get to meet a lot of cool people.”
But Suzy admits it’s not perfect. “The food isn’t that great… and some of the first year dorms aren’t that great either, but UBC was my first choice junior year and senior year I can tell you that so far, I haven’t regretted my decision to come here. I also personally find the campus to be absolutely stunning.”
Comparing the competitiveness in UBC to SAS, Suzy said there are hundreds of clubs and that she was overwhelmed when she first arrived on campus. “There’s a club for almost anything,” she said. “Some people are super involved and others aren’t involved in any. I’m not sure about honor societies, but I think there’s a student council for every faculty.”
Christopher Huang, a senior applying to the University of Toronto, British Columbia, and Waterloo, gives different reasons as to why he’s applying to Canadian universities. For one, they don’t look at freshman year GPAs. This works in his favor because the first two years at SAS were hard for him academically. But that isn’t the only reason why he decided to look beyond America. He explains, “Canada has a better healthcare system. It’s also safer.”
Christopher also believes SAS students are unaware of the astounding Canadian universities. “I think people are applying to America more than Canada because we’re Singapore AMERICAN School. And also, we have a lot of Americans here. And to foreign students like me, there’s a certain glamour to American colleges. Everyone thinks that America ‘must be the best’ even though it’s not so much the case today as it was back in my aunt’s and uncle’s generation.”
While subjective, there are definitely factors to consider besides college ranking that has clearly affected one senior’s college list. Kristi Tan, an applicant to the University of British Columbia, playfully comments, “Canada seems like a nice place to live with all its nature and maple syrup!” She adds, “ I applied to Canada because my older sister is in UBC and from what she told me, she sounds like she’s having a good time.”