Why You Should Apply to Different Schools

Keep your options open and make informed decisions about which school you choose.

Feb 10, 2016

Choosing a post-secondary institution is a really exciting decision, but that time between submitting your application and finding out whether or not you’ve been accepted can be pretty nerve-wracking. What if you get don’t get into the school of your choice?

Sure, rejection sucks, but you can potentially soften the blow by applying to a few different schools so that you keep your options open.

I wanted to move away for school

After studying commerce at MacEwan University, I was ready for a change: I wanted to switch my program of study to international development, and I was ready to move on to a bigger university campus. I no longer felt my studies needed to be confined to Edmonton, or even to Alberta, so I looked into what other institutions I might want to study at.

I considered post-secondary institutions in Alberta and across the country, and found two that offered a program I was interested in—the University of Calgary and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Instead of applying to just one, I applied to both.

Even though I had to pay application fees to both institutions and fill out two applications, I wanted to keep my options open in case one school didn’t accept me.

Waiting to find out if you've been accepted

Despite applying to two institutions, and thereby doubling my odds of being accepted to a program, waiting to find out if I was accepted to either school still made me nervous. I checked my application status online at least ten times a day.

When I finally found out I was accepted to the University of Calgary I was so relieved! I was so excited I forgot all about my other application and fully convinced myself that I’d be moving to Calgary. I even toured the campus and spoke to students in the program.

A month later I received a call from a recruitment coordinator at Simon Fraser University. She was calling to notify me that I was accepted into the program! So much time had passed since I’d applied that I assumed I wasn’t accepted and was already planning to move to Calgary. Suddenly, I had a decision to make. I put in the extra effort to apply to two different schools, and that effort paid off—suddenly I had options!

What if you get into more than one school?

So how did I choose between the two institutions? You might be surprised to know that I didn’t actually base my decision on the institutions themselves but rather on the circumstances around moving to and living in either Calgary or Vancouver.

It just so happened that a good friend of mine, who I met at MacEwan, had recently been accepted to a different school in Vancouver. Since I didn’t know anyone in Calgary, having the option to move and live with a friend solidified my decision. Vancouver just made more sense for me.

Transfer Alberta can help you transfer schools

Submitting a few different applications keeps your options open in another way: if you don’t get into your first choice school, you are still one step closer to getting there.

Transfer Alberta is a helpful framework that offers transfer agreements between institutions—so maybe you begin your studies at the school you were accepted to, and then transfer to another. Transfer Alberta allows you to plan which courses you’ll take in advance to ensure that they easily transfer over to your next school.

I’d encourage you to give yourself options when applying for post-secondary. By applying to a few different schools, you can increase your admission odds and you may even get lucky like I did and find yourself able to choose which institution you prefer.


Athabasca University

Online courses really suit my learning style because they are flexible and allow me to focus on one course at a time.

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