Until recently, admissions requirements for Canadian universities have been based solely on high school grade averages, but post-secondary schools are in the works of changing the application process for the better.
Programs have begun to help create well-rounded campuses of students that are involved in extra-curricular and leadership activities as well as academics. Including a “personal profile” in the application is the first step that some universities are beginning to take.
Submitting a personal profile has become a part of the application process at many schools around the country, and it can be equally important to a student’s academic record when applying to post-secondary institutions.
With the growing number of international students attending Canadian universities each year, it is becoming more and more difficult for domestic high school students to earn acceptance to schools close to home. The information that is provided in a personal profile gives these prospective students a chance to stand out from the crowd and highlight their individual attributes.
Students with less-than-exceptional academic performances in high school are also given the opportunity to showcase their non-academic strengths and gain admission to a school that may not have previously been within their reach.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) was one of the first schools in Canada to introduce this process of broad-based admissions, and it is apparent that other schools around the country are quickly following suit.
Prospective UBC students were required to complete a personal profile as part of their application starting in 2012. The profile consists of five short-answer questions that aim to assess students based on their strengths outside of school and their previous accomplishments.
The information included is absolutely crucial to a successful application, and as UBC’s website states, the personal profile is not meant to just be a list of accomplishments. It is meant to give students a chance to reflect on what they have learned from their experiences and triumphs.
Mostly UBC faculty and staff score the personal profiles and are unaware of the applicant’s identity, what their grades are, or how greatly the score will impact the admission decision.
In order to select the incoming class of UBC students for 2013, 41,509 reads of personal profiles were conducted. This creates a vast amount of extra work for UBC faculty and staff, but seems to be an investment for the school worthy of their time.
According to the UBC Vancouver Enrolment Report for 2013, the average grades of accepted students haven’t gone down as some might have expected. The admission average for 2013 was 89.5 per cent on the Vancouver campus for a first-year domestic student, which is actually an increase from 2011, when the mean admission average was 89.1 per cent.
UBC has been known to recruit high-achieving students, and this shift in the admissions process is a key sign that the university is trying to recognize students for more than just their grades — a step that proves very important in creating a campus of comprehensive students.
Other post-secondary institutions in Canada are following the path that UBC has helped to pave towards broader incoming undergraduate admissions. Some include the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
It will be interesting to see how these applications continue to change and evolve, but being a graduating high school student, I am thankful that I have been able to apply in a time where all of my attributes are considered — not just the percentages on my transcript.
Lauren McIvor is a Grade 12 student at Whistler Secondary School.