Choosing a university in Alberta involves careful consideration of a number of different factors. The decision might seem intimidating, but there's an easy way to keep it manageable: making a check sheet of specific categories for each university you're interested in can be a good way to compare schools so you can see which one best suits your academic and personal needs.
Aspects/categories to consider when choosing a university in Alberta:
Credentials offered: Are you looking for a bachelor's degree, associate's degree, diploma or certificate? Does the university offer the credential you want in the field and specialization you want?
Programs offered: Does the university offer a program in the area that interests you? How good is its program? Consider the courses available, class size, instructor qualifications, specialized facilities, etc.
Academic and language requirements: What pre-requisite courses are required? Can you apply directly from high school? Which language tests scores dos the university accept?
Location: Consider the climate of the area where the university is located. Think also about whether you'd prefer to live in a small town, medium-sized city or large metropolis.
Size and culture: Do you learn better in a small, personal atmosphere? Or do you thrive in a big, bustling campus? In terms of a university's "culture," look at a school's religious affiliation, program focus (for instance, whether the university specializes in a certain field, such as liberal arts, technology, theology, etc.).
Cost: Consider basic living expenses, tuition fees and the cost of books and other supplies.
Scholarships and awards/ financial aid: Are there specific scholarships, awards or loans for international students that you qualify for? How helpful is the university's financial aid office?
Housing options: Does the school offer or require on-campus residence? Will you have to find off-campus apartment rental? Is there a homestay program and does the university housing office help students find accommodation?
Quality/ accreditation: Check each university's accreditation at both the institutional and program levels.
Extracurricular activities: University life isn't just about what goes on in the classroom! What does each university offer outside of academics? Consider student clubs, sports, competitions, campus and community activities, etc.
Support for international students: Look for an international student centre, specialized tutorial services, language support programs, buddy system, etc.
Rankings: Consider national and international rankings as well as "unoffical" student reviews that can be found online.
Other international students' experiences: Universities and other online resources can help you connect with other current or former international students who can share their experience and advice.
Your gut feeling: In addition to weighing the intellectual pros and cons of how each university in Alberta adds up according to your check sheet, listen to your intuition or instinct and how you feel about a school. Above all: don't panic! Allow yourself to be excited and open to the possibilities when choosing a university in Alberta.