How to get into UBC

  1. Get good grades. Other people may tell you that extracurriculars are more important than good grades but I believe that good grades are the most important. You’re trying into get into an institution of higher education so you should demonstrate with good grades that you will be capable of handling the huge amount of learning that you’ll do at university. Great grades can also indicate a solid work ethic when it comes to schoolwork and that you actually give a damn about school.
  2. Take a leadership role in at least 3 extracurriculars. You don’t have to be Team Captain or President. I was the President of my own club, was in the leadership team of my hockey team (served as Assistant Captain one year but was never Captain), Creative Director in another organization, and had some other leadership roles.  Show that you can commit and go above and beyond the effort and time that a regular member would put in.
  3. Do at least one community service extracurricular. Honestly, you should really be giving back to your community whether or not you’re trying to get into university. Go volunteer time to a cause that you believe in! The most fulfilling aspect of my high experience was all the outreach concerts I did with my fellow members with the music therapy volunteer program & organization I started. Volunteering can be a lot of fun because you can meet people of all ages. Volunteering in a variety of capacities also lead me to be interested in the career that I’m currently working to pursue.
  4. Join at least one athletic team. You don’t have athletic by nature but it’s really important to have experience working as a team towards a common goal. Sports are also a lot of fun and keep you healthy.
  5. Do an arts related extracurricular even if you’re aiming for not aiming to study arts. I wrote poetry and theatre plays because I love sharing messages to the world through my writing. Music, photography, painting, theatre, graphic design, dance – whatever you enjoy.
  6. Work experience signals maturity and responsibility. You might find your job boring and that’s ok! I didn’t find myself fulfilled in some of my previous roles which helped me realize what did make me feel fulfilled. One of my office work roles allowed me to do first aid and I learned that I felt fulfilled helping people who needed first aid treatment (so much that I’m still a First Aid Attendant years later). I discovered my passion for teaching as a tutor and piano teacher so I suggest trying out different jobs until you find yourself something that you like.
  7. START EARLY ON YOUR APPLICATION ESSAYS. It will take more time than you think to brainstorm, write, edit, throw away what you’ve written, write new essays, edit, and repeat. It will take more than one night. More application advice at 10 FAQS: Applying to UBC
  8. Make your application essays fun to read. Be creative. Don’t write too formally. Instead of saying, “I have lots of leadership qualities”, tell a story of a time that you led ____. Throw in a joke. Instead of saying “I have interpersonal skills” (that just sounds so awkward….), show that by writing about interactions with people. On that note, change the names of the people you write about to protect their privacy. For example, I wrote about an experience at Downtown Eastside Women’s centre so I was careful to remove personal information about the people in my essay. It won’t help or hinder your application but it’s just a considerate thing to do.
  9. Submit your application a week before the early bird deadline at the latest. The year I applied, the deadline was Dec 10. I submitted my UBC application two weeks before the early deadline, which means 2 months before the actual deadline. 1) Every year, the application system crashes when lots of people are submitting last minute. Don’t be the applicant crying with fear that your application was submitted. 2) I know you don’t feel like it but it will feel great when you get your acceptance in March way before some of your friends that waited until the last minute and don’t hear back from UBC months after you . A lot of my friends that were accepted to UBC also submitted their applications before the early bird deadline. Just carve out some time now to write and then submit as soon as you can!
  10. Put the faculty you want most as your first choice. Don’t get convinced into applying to a “safety” faculty as your first choice. There are no safety faculties  (read 10 FAQS about applying to UBC) – everything is competitive . A lot of people get into their first choice even if they think they are not competitive enough.  I put my current Faculty, Science, as my first choice and Sauder for business and computer science as my second choice. They’re both competitive but hey, that is what I wanted to study so I applied for exactly what I wanted.

BONUS: How to set yourself for success at university

  1. Take a full courseload. Knowing how to juggle the demands of multiple classes is important.
  2. Take the hardest courses available at your school. If available, take as many AP courses as you can. It will greatly help when you are actually in university. AP Chemistry and Calculus were immensely helpful when I was in my first year chemistry and calculus course.
  3. Take electives that interest you. This might be the last time you have time to try singing in a choir or take an elective Canadian Law course.
  4. Learn how to balance studying with extracurriculars and having fun.
  5. Time management is the most useful skill you’ll ever need.