5 ways to get an edge on university admissions this year

Sep 2 2020, 1:22 pm

If you’re entering your final years of high school, you’ve likely already begun preparing for university admissions. Despite the impossibilities of planning for a global pandemic, don’t let this unprecedented time stand in the way of your aspirations.

With everything going on, focusing on how to get your application to stand out might seem insurmountable. But looking at this pre-graduation period as a time for self-exploration can alleviate some of the pressure, set you on the right path, and ensure you’re a hidden gem within a stack of ordinary applications.

Rest assured — though at times it may seem the world is coming apart at the seams, there are still tons of things you can do to ensure you get into the university and program of your dreams. Here are some pointers on how to make the next few months ones of self-discovery, with the added benefit of making you a well-rounded candidate.

Invest time in extracurriculars


Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but for some reason never have? Or, perhaps there are things you enjoy, but haven’t made time for? We have three words for you: seize the moment.

Forget about what’s going to seem most impressive on your application and spring for an extracurricular that’s going to provide you with the skills you want. Opting for something you actually enjoy means you’re way more likely to stick to it. Plus, extracurriculars don’t necessarily have to be high-achieving; they just have to demonstrate your interests outside school.

Join an Advanced Placement Program

Enrolling in a College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, like those at Canada Star Secondary, is a great way to obtain credits that you can use both for high school graduation and university admission — even if you don’t take the AP Exam.

There are a plethora of interesting courses to choose from, like AP Psychology, AP Chemistry, AP Biology, AP Macroeconomics, AP 2D or 3D Art and Design, AP Calculus, and so many others. Plus, the after school hours (4-7 pm, once a week) mean all students, even those who don’t attend the school full-time, can participate and obtain high school credits.

The program will provide you with the opportunity to pursue college-level studies and earn college credits while still in high school. This means you can explore potential majors based on what interests you and build the skills and confidence needed to thrive post-secondary.



Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to your community, it’s also a means of signalling to those reviewing your application which causes matter to you most.

Especially in light of everything going on in the world, like mounting inequality and environmental calamity, universities will be on the lookout for individuals who want to make a positive impact. Not to mention, it’s a noble way of going about uncovering your hidden passions.

Find a job


While you might consider having a job a potential distraction from your school work and extracurriculars, it’s actually a great way to demonstrate work ethic on your application.

Working part-time occasionally on weeknights or weekends can help you gain additional skills — on top of illustrating that you’re an industrious and hard-working individual. Note, your part-time job doesn’t necessarily need to align with your future aspirations in order to convey these impressive facets of your character.

Focus on grades


While the activities you pursue outside of school will definitely help your personality come through on your admission, your grades are also a part of the big picture.

Every university has a baseline range of grades that need to be met in order for your admission to be considered, and it’s helpful to know what they are. Check out the university websites where you’ll be applying to ensure you’re on the right track.

If you’re not quite where you need to be, don’t sweat it. Consult your teachers for resources and devise a plan for how to get there. It’s never too late to start, as long as you ask for help.

Canada Star Secondary School is an independent school that provides students, including international students, with high-quality learning and personalized university plans and resources.

You can visit their website to register for their Advanced Placement Program or to learn more.

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