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Post-secondary Education: Go To Cégep First Or Directly To University?

Camély Gendron

by Camély Gendron

Third-Year Student

Like many high school students in Quebec, I believed that my post-secondary education should start at cégep. In order to be well supported in this decision, I met with my school's guidance counsellor. I then discovered another interesting, possible and advantageous option: going directly to the University of Ottawa. 

Choosing the right program

I learned from the uOttawa programs brochure that I could apply to more than 30 different programs in the faculties of arts, engineering, management, science and social sciences. For most of these programs, an average of 84% or higher is required. To calculate the average, the university uses the top five marks in selected courses at the Secondary V level, including the prerequisite courses for the respective program in question. 

After researching and discussing this with my family, I decided to take a program from the Telfer School of Management: the Bachelor of Commerce/Juris Doctor (J.D./BCom). This program allows me to obtain two degrees within six years of university studies, in the two areas that interest me the most, management and law. 

Making the Transition Successful

If you decide to make the leap from high school in Quebec to the University of Ottawa, here are three tips that will help you: 

1. Manage your time well

It is important, from the outset, to develop good study and time management techniques. Several resources are available to you early in your first-year to help you develop these skills. Make the most of it!

2. Take advantage of the mentoring program

I strongly encourage you to participate in the various activities organized by your faculty and, above all, to get involved. For example, at the Telfer School of Management, all students in first-year are paired with a mentor. This is a great service where a mentor will always be available to guide you and to organize activities and workshops specifically for you and other first-year students! 

3. Make connections

From the first week, even though it may seem intimidating, try to speak with your professors. I strongly recommend that you take advantage of their office hours and take an interest in their classes to develop a real connection with them. The professor will be happy to see your involvement and, who knows, maybe they can write you a letter of recommendation! 

As for your classmates, you'll spend four years with them and develop friendships with some of them. Take an interest in them from the first week, and they will do the same for you. You'll be able to broaden your network of friends.

An advantageous choice

There are many advantages to being a student at the University of Ottawa:

1. Graduate faster 

By removing cégep from your schooling if you are coming from Quebec, you can accelerate entry into the workplace by two years. This is appealing and impressive in the eyes of many employers. 

2. Study in the field you are passionate about

If you are motivated, committed and want to develop your knowledge, the university will certainly satisfy your thirst for learning! In addition, at the end of your university studies, you'll obtain an internationally recognized diploma that will allow you to have a successful and prosperous career in the field you're passionate about. 

3. Take advantage of an automatic scholarship

As soon as you are admitted with an average of 84% or higher, you will receive an automatic admission scholarship based on your average from high school. This scholarship varies from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on your average. Following this, the university also awards merit scholarships based on your performance in university.  

4. Study in the language of your choice

The University of Ottawa is a bilingual university. Therefore, you are able to take courses and submit assignments in the official language of your choice (English or French) throughout the bachelor's degree program. You can combine English and French classes in your schedule, or simply choose to study entirely in one language.

5. Experience efficient service

The application process was very clear and easy to access through the uOttawa website. On several occasions, I contacted the liaison office, which has a representative dedicated to answering questions from Secondary V students in Quebec, a service that was very helpful to me. 

An Important Decision

The direct transition from high school to the University of Ottawa was an enriching experience that allowed me to grow both personally and professionally, and to meet new people with similar interests to mine. I am now in my third-year of university, and I can say that I am a proud Gee-Gee who loves her program!

That being said, choosing a university is a big and serious decision, so I encourage you to get informed and discuss it with your guidance counselor and your family. It has helped me tremendously in making an informed choice that meets my needs. The University of Ottawa is a dynamic, bilingual university full of resources and services that will certainly enrich your post-secondary experience!