Post-Secondary Research Tips


The summer is a great time to research post-secondary schools and programs. By the time fall comes, students should have a clear idea of where they will be applying. Not only will this research help students identify which schools and programs best suit their academic and personal goals, but it will also help them write their university application essays, as these often ask questions like, “Why do you want to study here?” or “Which features of our school will benefit your education?” 

Read on for research tips and ideas. With these, you can do your homework and begin the admissions season feeling knowledgeable and prepared! 

Students researching post-secondary options


First things first: before researching schools, students should think about what they want. What kind of educational environment appeals to you? Are you self-motivated as a student or do you require a bit more support? What are you hoping to get out of your post-secondary experience? 

You’re a unique individual, and your high school years have provided a wealth of information about what works for you and what doesn’t. Perhaps you enjoyed the intimacy of your law class and loved getting to hear others’ perspectives and contribute to discussions. A smaller liberal arts college might be the perfect setting for your undergraduate years. Or maybe you had the opportunity to do an internship and appreciated how the hands-on learning complemented what you were taught in class. A business program with a co-op option might be the best choice for your learning style. When thinking about your current school, ask yourself which aspects have been particularly valuable to you and which you would change. Reflecting on your personality, desires, and needs will allow you to make choices that support your success. As you research, consider the size of the institution, location (urban, rural, or in between), and distance from home. 

Explore post-secondary academic programs

Look carefully at the admissions requirements—do you have the right courses to apply?—and the graduation requirements for each degree. If math isn’t your strong suit, you won’t want to apply to a program requiring several high-level math courses. Does the curriculum excite you? How is the program structured? What majors and areas of concentration are offered? Which courses are you supposed to take each year of the degree? Does the program have special features, such as a mentorship program or undergraduate research opportunities? Is there a study abroad program? Spend time on both the university website and the website for your particular program. Read up on faculty, events, class sizes, and student profiles. 

Learn about student life

Attending a post-secondary institution provides more than an education: it can present an opportunity to create meaningful relationships, develop a professional network, and contribute to a larger community. Make sure to research campus life: check out athletic and recreational activities, clubs and organizations, and volunteer opportunities. Can you see yourself getting involved? 

Get organized

Finally, organize your findings in a simple spreadsheet, so you can remember what you’ve found during your research process. This will come in handy if you’re later asked to write about your favourite features of a particular school, but it will also help you narrow down your list of prospective institutions.

As always, if you’d like to explore your post-secondary options with an educational consultant, get in touch! We love helping students find their right fit. Contact us at

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