Mature student looking for admissions advice
October 3, 2012 11:15 AM   Subscribe

How do I find a consultant or service to provide admission/application advice to an adult returning to university? I am in Ontario, Canada.

Short version: Does such a service exist and if so how do I find a number in order to find the right one for me? Can you recommend one? If necessary, further information below ....

I am an immigrant to Canada, in my 30s and with a degree from my native country - I have not had any formal education for more than 15 years. I have a continuous work history both here and abroad (ie am not one of the cab driving surgeons or the like) and am interested in returning to college or university to get a second degree. I spend pretty much no time around students and my home country has an education system very, very different to those in North America so in doing my own research I'm getting bogged down a lot in the terminology, confusion over how much of the published information is relevant to my "not an adult with no degree or a high school student from this province" background, as well as the fact that I don't know the reputation etc of the institutions in my locale. I've made a few calls to colleges near me but haven't found much help and am unsure I'm even asking the right questions.

What I would like in an ideal world - someone who knows the system here intimately to look at my areas of interest, suggest the right school/s to target, point me in the direction of local resources to take prerequisites if I am missing any (I took no sciences in my version of high school for example), talk me through the application process for my own situation, and leave me capable of developing a sensible to-do list of whatever is most vital and maybe some target dates. Also tell me honestly if I am wasting my time to even be considering this. I'm not massively wealthy or anything, but feel I'm spinning my wheels so would be willing to pay appropriately for this or some of this. Googling has found a number, but they all seem to be in the US and aimed at high-maintenance parents of teens looking to get into ivy league colleges.

Thank you for any advice you can offer!
posted by anonymous to Education (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not a consultant but I am a university graduate from Ontario and am pretty familar with many of the institutions. The phrase you should be looking for on the university websites when looking at application and program information is "mature student".

What is your current education background and what are you interested in? What city are you located in or are you willing to relocate?

Once you have it narrowed down to a few schools call to book an appointment with an academic advisor. They can answer all your questions about prereqs and such.
posted by saradarlin at 11:43 AM on October 3, 2012

Since you are anon, please memail me if you'd like to talk about specific schools or programs.
posted by saradarlin at 11:45 AM on October 3, 2012

It's uncommon for people in Ontario to use a consultant unless they are "high-maintenance parents of teens looking to get into ivy league colleges"; most people I know (including myself) did not even use the guidance departments at our high schools. I actually applied a year after graduating and did so without any additional information -- I just filled in the standard application that was then available (1998), picked my three universities and sent it off.

That said, the universities themselves will likely have people to offer advice to prospective students, whether traditional aged or mature students. I know that my undergrad university - York, in Toronto - had different admissions requirements for mature students, requiring less in the way of formal preparation because they had more informal education and experience.

But as you note, if you just call in cold, you may not get the right department and thus might get some run-around.

For general admissions information, I would try the admissions departments of local universities; for course/major/department specific information (all issues around pre-requisites, for example, would be department specific), I would contact the undergraduate director of the department you are interested in. For example, if you would really like to study astronomy, you would contact the astronomy department.

If you are interested in a STEM field and you don't have secondary level STEM training, you will probably have to take high-school level courses to make this up. A friend of mine is currently working on his high-school level math credits as part of a plan to go to university in a STEM field.

As for local universities, what departments - there are enough Ontario mefites around that if you specify the place and/or your interests, you can probably get a good review (for example, I know people who teach/study history at York and UofT and could tell you which is better for what kind of history -- Toronto for international and maybe medieval, York for Canadian, environmental or general social history).
posted by jb at 12:25 PM on October 3, 2012

The universities in Canada are pretty good at helping you without the need for an outside consultant. Check out some local universities of interest and look up their Mature Student programs; there will be a number or email to contact for more info and they can hook you up with a department advisor. True, you'd have to pick a department first, but the mature student programs are pretty simple and straightforward - poke around the programs they have listed and see what interests you, and then go from there.

You can also of course return as a full time student, and the university will be happy to set you up with an advisor - but you will have to have some sort of idea what you want to be studying. Perhaps you could take some mature student courses first to see what whets your appetite?

If it helps, I returned as a part-time student to finish off an old unfinished degree and to start a new one, and it was no trouble at all. The first advisor I spoke to looked at my info and sent me to the advisor I really needed to talk to, and it was smooth from there.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2012

Hi! I'm not sure if this is exactly what you are looking for but I work for a company that does assessments of educational credentials obtained abroad. These are usually required for admission to Ontario colleges, but universities vary. It might be a starting point of sorts. Memail me if you would like more information.
posted by torisaur at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2012

I am a librarian in a public library in Ontario. I've helped quite a few people with similar queries. Try the local (larger) library. You may have to ask a few different people to find one that "clicks" with you.

As to whether it is worth your time... Well it depends on what your end goal is. But generally, a HIGHER degree is much, much more useful than a second parallel/equivalent degree.

Can you give more information?
posted by saucysault at 8:09 PM on October 3, 2012

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