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How much emphasis do Canadian universities put on extracurriculars?

I’m a 9th grade student studying in Canada. I’ve been trying to build up a strong university application in hopes that a head start can relieve my 12th grade self of some added stress. Some resources online have said that extracurricular activities can make or break an application, but most of these resources have been referring to American schools. Do the higher acceptance rates in Canada mean that good grades and test scores can be enough to get me into most schools? Or are extracurriculars something I should prioritize alongside those two things?
#university #college-admissions #extracurricular


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Neil’s Answer


Hey Aria, so I just finished my first year at the Univerity of Toronto. I see that you're currently in ninth grade and the best advice I have for someone in your position is to be like a sponge. Be willing to try different things so that you can understand what you really like and what you are good at. In terms of getting into college or university; I would say that right now many post-secondary places are really looking at your extracurriculars as well as grades.

If there are 2 students; one with a 95% avg in grade 12 vs a mid 80 average but with maybe 3 extracurriculars, they would pick the 80 average students over the 95 (not saying that they both won't get the offer). This is because what it does is tell them "ok student B has these grades but is also able to balance a life outside of the textbook" and this is something that they find really valuable.

So basically if you have high grades you will get in but if you do have a few extracurricular it can give you that boost. (besides it also makes your high school experience more fun).

Hi Neil, I converted your comment to a full answer and combined part 1 and 2! Gurpreet Lally

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Holden’s Answer

Hey Aria! While it's true that American schools really want to see applicants that have good grades and are actively engaged in extra curriculums, it will still definitely help you in Canada. Universities want students who they know are going to be involved on campus, not just picking their noses in a dorm room. Being involved in high school can even get you scholarships for university depending on the school and the activities you do.

Just find a club, sport, job, etc. that you really enjoy doing and it'll make highschool that much better! Just remember not to overload your schedule, keep your grades up and do what you enjoy and you'll have no problems getting into university.

Good luck!

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Aria P.,

I am located in the U.S. and I’m unsure what institutions prefer in Canada.

Aria, the easiest way to find the correct answers to your question is to ask the colleges and universities in Canada directly. If you have 2-3 universities of interest, simple schedule an appointment to speak with an admissions counselor about what that institution is looking for in potential students. Remember, grades are just one indicator of success. Who you are, your interests and passions are equally important.

So, if your GPA is lower than you’d like at the moment, start looking for ways to improve your outcome by retaking classes at a community college to help bring up your GPA for example. Also consider building your knowledge and passion by engaging in other activities that are better aligned with you interests. You’ve already received some great ideas from previous posts about possible options.

Finally, please do not underestimate the power of your entrance essay. This is where you’ll get to share the story about you (this is not just a resume). If the school is the right fit for you, they will appreciate all that you bring to the table. So work hard, be your authentic self along the way and spend time telling your story in an essay.

I hope this helped! Take care.

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