6 Reasons to Study in Canada

While most American students set their sights on homegrown institutions, an increasing number are discovering the benefits of earning a college degree abroad. Canada, our gentle multicultural neighbor to the north, offers some amazing benefits to students who are looking for a great education in a country that embraces winter.

Lighter Admissions Requirements

While Canada offers wonderful educational opportunities, the application process is often much easier to navigate than the American one. In many cases, the SAT or ACT are not required, nor are grades from your first two years of high school. So if you’re a poor test taker or a late bloomer, this could be a great alternative for you! Plus, many Canadian schools do not want letters of recommendation nor essays, and they do not request nor require interviews. You simply submit your application along with your transcript, and await good news! For more information on the process, check out the Canadian University Application Centre.

World Class Universities

Most Americans are familiar only with domestic institutions, but the truth is that Canada is home to some of the world’s best universities. The University of Toronto in Toronto and McGill University in Montreal rank above Duke, Brown, and Northwestern Universities in the QS World University Rankings. Students who graduate from these schools successfully go on to graduate programs at some the U.S.’s elite universities, become Rhodes Scholars, and get jobs at Blue Chip companies like Google, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs.

Less Expensive and Financial Resources Transfer

For any family looking for an affordable alternative to American universities, Canadian ones offer relatively low tuition fees for international students. Not only is the highest rate of CAD $24,696 (or USD $22,482.60) at Queen’s University significantly lower than that found at many of the U.S.’s public and private schools, but in general tuition for American students hovers around USD $10,000 less than that per year. In addition, federal Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and Parental PLUS Loans transfer to many Canadian institutions. All you need to do is complete the FAFSA and you will be able to borrow the same amount as you would have had you decided to attend an American university. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to be the beneficiary of a 529 Plan or Coverdell Savings Account, most Canadian universities qualify as eligible institutions under these savings vehicles. Be sure to do your research first, but you will likely discover that studying in Canada makes a lot of financial sense.

Close to Home

Because Canada is a different country, many Americans imagine that it is far, far away. The reality is that Canada borders 12 American states, and in some cases, is quicker and less expensive to get to than U.S. cities on the opposite coast. From Washington, D.C., it takes only an hour and a half to fly to Toronto or Montreal. That’s less time than it takes to fly to Miami! So if you’re hoping to stay relatively close to home while getting a great education, a Canadian university is probably a better option that you ever realized.

Extra Job Opportunities

American students who attend “university” in Canada can easily obtain a student work permit to find jobs on or off campus, participate in co-ops or internships, or stay in the country after graduation. Upon completion of their degrees, students discover that the Canadian educational system is recognized the world over, and they can easily transition into positions either back in the United States, in Canada, or beyond. In fact, the country’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program provides a means for foreign students to stay in Canada for up to three years after they finish school, meaning you will have a larger pool of employment options than some of your friends who elect to stay in the U.S.

Little to No Culture Shock

From a cultural perspective, there is no foreign country more like the United States than Canada. The country sits within the same time zones, watches the same television shows, listens to the same music, speaks the same language with nearly the same accent, appreciates many of the same sports, and believes in what’s new and progressive rather than traditions of the past. While there are of course some important social and political differences – for example students can drink alcohol from age 19, parts of the country are more francophone than anglophone, there is socialized medicine, and the national government is a parliamentary democracy – the dissimilarities of the day-to-day experience are minimal. Oftentimes, students who elect to spend a semester or year abroad in other countries experience “culture shock,” a feeling that leads them to struggle with their host country’s customs. Instead, Canada’s culture is so similar to the U.S.’s that most American students adapt quickly and seamlessly.

Drawbacks Worth Considering

There are certainly many benefits to studying in Canada, but you should also take into consideration some of the issues before hopping up north. For example, you will need to establish new bank and credit card accounts as well as phone service there. You may be able to use your U.S. ones, but they often carry heavy international fees when you use them out of the country. In addition, you will become ineligible for a number of American scholarship and fellowship opportunities, including federal student grants as well as the Marshall and Truman Scholarships. You will also have to adapt to a new student evaluation system in which student grades are not assigned on the same scale nor for the same reasons. Finally, Canadian universities do not offer the same collegiate sports and Greek Life cultures that many American students look forward to during their four years of school.

While these differences could be major deterrents for some students, for others, the benefits of choosing to study in Canada far outweigh the costs.

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm

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