School & Learning Opportunities

Getting Into College or University

Are you starting to think about university, college or another educational option for when you are done high school? You’ve seen what post-secondary looks like, either on social media or through TV shows and movies.

In reality, post-secondary isn’t always a straight line from high school to a job that you want. More often, it looks like a winding road full of exciting experiences, opportunities to learn and grow, and failures and achievements!! Buckle up and be prepared for the ride!

In 2010/2011 about 172,000 students enrolled in post-secondary programs in Alberta and approximately 68% of Canadians between 25-64 years old have some sort of post-secondary education. This means that you are not alone in this journey! Many resources are designed to help you make your way through the decisions, applications, finances, and courses or programs that you take. Learning to seek out and find help is going to be an important skill in this post-secondary journey.

So what does it take to get into post-secondary in Alberta? It can sometimes seem like a mysterious and complicated process, and our advice is to start at your ideal finish line and work backwards.

What’s At the Finish Line?

It could be your ideal job. Some people have a specific career in mind, like becoming a doctor, business owner, teacher, or artist.

Your goal could be to simply learn more about a certain subject or place. For example, many people go to post-secondary to learn more about science, society, culture, and so on. From there, you can figure out what you like best and find opportunities that let you further explore that subject.

There are also a lot of people who are not sure where they want to end up. It’s okay to start anyways! One idea is to consider the things that you are good at, what you love doing and get excited about, and maybe even what other people have told you are your strengths. This Alberta government website is designed to help you think about your potential career and the process to get there!

What Programs, Diplomas, or Degrees Will Help Me Get to This Finish Line?

Once you’ve thought about a couple of different subjects you want to study or a couple of different jobs you’d like to have, you can research the different types of programs, certifications, or degrees that will help you get there.

Some people choose to attend a public research university like the University of Alberta or University of Calgary. Not only do people get degrees or certificates at these universities, but many students research different subjects here. If you’re interested in exploring your favorite topics in many different ways, a research university might be a good choice for you.

You could also look into an institute like NAIT or SAIT. They have many specialized programs for specific careers. If there is a program that catches your eye, it will help narrow down which school you want to go to and how you should prepare for your application.

Learn more about undergraduate programs, certificates, diplomas, and occupational programs by clicking here.

What Do I Need to Get Into This Program?

Certain schools, programs, and majors have specific things they are looking for in their future students.

If you are interested in applying to a school outside of Alberta, they often have different requirements compared to Alberta. You should check the particular school’s admission requirements. If you are interested in applying to a school in the USA, they may have certain exams you have to take like the SATs. As for international schools, you should check the admission requirements for international students. This webpage will focus on applying to schools in Alberta!

For example, the University of Alberta Faculty of Science has specific high school courses that must be completed in order to apply to certain programs. If you want to get into the Chemistry program, you need to have Chemistry 30 and Physics 30. Math 31 is strongly recommended.

Most post-secondary programs have some sort of high school course requirements. For example, SAIT’s Dental Assisting program needs to see the completion of Math 30, English 30, Biology 30, Chemistry 3 with an overall average of at least 60%.

Knowing these requirements for your ideal programs will help you build your high school schedule. It can also help you determine what grades you need to get in Grade 11 or Grade 12.

But, no worries if you don’t have the required courses in your schedule or if you don’t get the grade you need. A lot of folks “upgrade” at schools like Centre High in order to meet the requirements for the program they want to get into!

When Do I Need to Apply?

Once you know which programs you want to apply to, and what grades and courses you need to have on your transcript, you should check out when applications are due!

Some schools might accept applications for early admission. If you’re accepted, you just have to maintain a certain average until the end of the year.

If they don’t, then you should check the individual admission deadline for the program you want to apply to. Be sure to check the semester you are applying for. For example, Fall semester is the one that starts in September. Winter semester starts in January, which could be confusing when you think about how early it starts to snow in Alberta!

How Do I Apply?

The next step is to head over to ApplyAlberta – the Alberta Post-Secondary Application System. It is an online application and transcript transfer system that anyone can use to apply to undergraduate programs at one or more of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions. Undergraduate programs are the first level of post-secondary students can pursue.

You will need:
  1. MyAlberta Digital ID. You will be prompted to create a MyAlberta Digital ID if you do not already have one.
  2. Your Alberta Student Number (ASN). If you have applied to or attended a school or post-secondary institution in Alberta, you will already have an ASN. To find your ASN, you can use the ASN Lookup service. If you do not have an ASN, the ApplyAlberta system will assign one to you.
  3. Names of all high schools and post-secondary institutions you have attended or are currently attending.
  4. High school courses and marks (for currently enrolled Canadian students only).
  5. credit card or other accepted method of payment – you may need to pay an application fee, depending on the institution(s).

Note: Be sure to talk to your parent or caregiver ahead of time about the application fee! For some institutions, the application fee is waived for Indigenous students.

As well, not every single post-secondary is listed on ApplyAlberta. If that’s the case, you will have to apply through that school’s portal. For a list of participating institutes, click here.

Good luck with your applications! They will be lucky to have you.

Check out our Groups and Workshops for more real life, skill building help – including a workshop on “Beyond High School”. We also have private, free virtual appointments available with our Mental Health Therapists, Peer Support Worker, and Employment Support Worker

Postsecondary program enrolments and graduates: Interactive tool (statcan.gc.ca)

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