Are you thinking about going to University, but you’re not completely sure? Here are some Questions and Answers that might help you make a decision.

What is the point of going to university?

Here are three excellent reasons to go to university:

:couple: you will make interesting friends
:thinking: you will learn amazing new ideas and skills
:woman_teacher: you will gain a qualification that will open doors for your future career

I have money worries now - how can I manage everything and go to University?

To deal with your money worries, you need to plan carefully. You need to understand what is and what is not possible and to do that, you need to make a budget. Write down all your expenses. Work out all your sources of income. Do this for the scenario where you work in a general job, and the scenario where you go to university. To do that, you need to understand how much university will cost and what sources of funding are available - jump to here to understand that.

You need to understand that your money worries are short-term worries. What I mean is - you need to pay your bills every month without going into debt or starving yourself. We say in Canada - you are living from paycheque to paycheque. However, if you only focus on your short-term money problems, you will never get out of this situation, and you will struggle with money forever.

The best way to get out of living paycheque to paycheque is to find a stable career that pays well, and to do that, you need to make yourself valuable to employers. You need a long-term plan. That means, you invest now in your education and skills so that you benefit in the future. This doesn’t have to be a university education - there are other good options if you prefer to get skills for a trade.

The important principle when it comes to money is, borrow money where that will bring you long-term benefits. Don’t borrow money for short-term benefits - to buy a car or furniture. Instead of “buy now - pay later” (the Canadian religion) you should have the plan “pay now - benefit later”.

:blue_car: vs :man_student: - the cost is about the same, so you decide which is your priority.

Also - while we are talking about money - DO NOT get into credit card debt. This is a disaster, because interest rates are so high. Use credit cards to build your credit rating, but never spend more money than you have.

How much does University cost?

It depends which university you go to. One of the big advantages of the University of Saskatchewan for people living in Saskatoon is that the overall costs will be significantly lower than other universities in Canada, for two reasons: 1) the fees are normally lower; 2) as a resident of Saskatchewan you will be eligible for government loans (which you have to pay back) and probably also grants (which you don’t ever have to pay back).

To study at University you have to pay various fees. The fees for last year (which may go up a bit next year) at the University of Saskatchewan are posted here. For an undergraduate degree in Arts and Sciences (the best starting point for most people) the costs were as follows:

Item Annual cost
Tuition $6798
Fees $1050
Books and supplies $1500 (but you can reduce this if you’re smart)
Total $9348

So - if you plan to get second hand books and use the books in the library, you can probably plan to spend $9000 per year, or $750 per month.

What sources of funding are available?

There are four basic ways to get money to fund yourself through university, and in almost every case, you will need to use a combination of all four sources:

  1. Working a part-time job. :fries: A good idea, but make sure you don’t take on too many hours so that you end up struggling to keep up with your studies. Weekend work is ideal. Maybe you work 16 hours a week in McDonalds, earning $13/hr - that’s about $900 per month - which will help considerably.

  2. Get a scholarship. :moneybag: Obviously everyone wants a scholarship. You can look out for scholarships at the University of Saskatchewan here. Other universities will have similar opportunities - you just need to look on the websites. My advice is this: look out for scholarships, apply for as many as you can, hope for the best, but assume that you will not get one, and plan you budget accordingly.

  3. Get a student loan :chart: The province of Saskatchewan provides student loans, and you are eligible to receive these - see here. The amount of money available is not very clear, and the process is also nto very clear to me - but I do know you can and should get a loan - it will pay off in the long run. I think students at the U of Saskatchewan might get a loan of $7000 per year - if I can find better information than that, I will post it.

  4. Get a grant :astonished: When you apply for a loan, it seems you are automatically considered for a grant from the government. I don’t fully understand this, but I think the principle is, if you don’t have rich parents able to pay your tuition for you, the goverment helps out with a grant. This is money you receive that you don’t have to pay back. I suspect the amount of the grant might be similar to what you receive as a loan - i.e. $7000 per year.

If my numbers here are right and you work part-time and take a grant and loan and get no scholarship, your annual income might be $24,800. That means, after paying your costs of studying, you have about $15,800 to live on, or about $1300 per month. Not rich, but perhaps enough. This also doesn’t factor in working full-time in the summer, which you can also do.

The bottom line - I think University is affordable without a scholarship - especially if you chose the University of Saskatchewan.

Can I get a scholarship?

Honest answer is probably not, but it is possible and you should try hard. Check this website regularly.

Which university should I go to?

This is your decision entirely, but I suggest you think about the following considerations:

  • What subject do you want to study, and does the university you are looking at have a good program in that area?

  • Costs - how much are the tuition/fees for that university, and how much will it cost you to live in that city?

  • Funding - you may find a scholarship tied to a specific university - if so, excellent. Otherwise, look carefully at the website of the university you are interested in to understand funding availability. If you move out of the province of Saskatchewan you may not be eligible for grants and loans - but I’m not sure about that. You need to research this carefully before you move.

  • All else being equal - where do you think you will be happier? Where are your friends/family? What is the place like to live in.

Which subject should I study?

You should always pick a subject that you will succeed in - one you are good at and enjoy. If you hate math, do not study Engineering, even if you think it will lead to a good job. If you can’t stand the sight of blood, you probably shouldn’t try to become a doctor, even if the salary is very high at the end. You will not enjoy it and you may end up dropping out.

It’s a good idea to think about what job the degree will lead to - but don’t make that your only consideration. Many people (me included) change their careers after their degree.

If you don’t really know what you want to do, don’t worry - that is normal. Probably in that case, you should start in the Arts and Science program, that allows you to take a very wide range of different subjects and specialize later on in the degree program (including going into medical areas, business, law, etc). One exception to this is if you want to go into Engineering. This is a separate undergraduate program. If you love math - consider a degree in Engineering.

A good exercise for you to do right now: pretend you already have the degree you are interested in. So - what will you do now you have graduated? Probably look for a job, right? So go onto and look for jobs with the degree. Are the opportunities good? Are there lots of openings? Are you excited by these prospects, or is it deflating? This is an excellent way to judge whether or not you have chosen the right program.

How do I get into university?

  • Did you already graduate high school, in Canada or elsewhere?

  • Did you do OK in high school - get good grades?

  • Do you have an English language qualification?

If yes to all the above - you can get into University easily - you just have to apply. Talk to me or Wenona and we will make sure your application process goes smoothly. We may also be able to get you application fee waivers.

If you have not yet passed one of the English language qualifications, see here

What English language qualification will I need to get into University?

For the official answer see here

The simple answer is - just try to pass duolingo. If you talk to me or Wenona, we may be able to get you a waiver for the cost of the test.

I know the test is scary - but don’t hesitate for too long (yes, I’m talking to you - you know who you are). Go for it.

How can I improve my English to get into university?

This is what everyone asks me. When I have a good answer, I promise, I will let you know. In the meantime - keep talking and writing. Here is a way to use artificial intelligence to give you feedback on your writing.

I also offer a conversation circle style class on Friday afternoons at Nutana - you are all welcome to come to this, but it is not a silver bullet.

Are there other ways to get a good job, without going to university?

Yes - definitely. For most jobs in Canada you do need some form of qualification. Sask Polytechnic is a great place to go if you want to get a highly skilled job in industry. These qualifications can also lead to very well paid jobs. Very very rough rule of thumb - if you want to work in an office, hospital or as an educator, you probably do need to go to University; if you want to work in industry, construction, with cars/machines, outdoors or in some computer-based jobs you probably should go to Sask Poly or maybe even Saskatoon Trades and Skills.

Am I smart enough to go to university?

Yes you are. The question is not whether you are smart enough, the question is where are your interests. Do you like reading? Do you like thinking about math problems? Do you like writing? Did you like school? If yes, then University might be good for you. If no to all the above, maybe University is not for you, and that is OK - everyone is different and you can live a successful, happy life without going to University. Do not do anything because of social pressure - you are responsible for yourself and you must make your own decisions about your life.

I am stressed because I don’t know what I want to do with my future - what can I do?

It is normal not to know what you want to do when you are young, so do not worry about this. Don’t waste your time with nonsense and try to do things that will open up future opportunities and not shut them down. So, for example, even if you’re not enjoying Grade 12 math, you should try your best to get through it and pass, because it will allow you to do more in future. You also need to realize that you are young and life is long. You have lots of time to figure it out. So don’t stress about things, don’t pile pressure on yourself, and don’t blame yourself for situations you are in that you had no control over.

That last point is important - so I’ll repeat it. Do not blame yourself for a situation that you had no control over. Be kind to yourself and others. You deserve kindness.