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Schools Which university? Which degree?

  1. Aug 9, 2009 #1

    I'm entering my final year of high school this fall and by Christmas have to decide what I want to do in university. I am having difficulty deciding what to apply for and at which university.

    University options:

    1) University of Saskatchewan. PROS- close to home, cheaper CONS- the engineering program is well respected, but I believe their science department is nothing close to my second option, Mcgill
    2) McGill. PROS- One of the best universities in the world CONS- More expensive, have to leave home

    To be honest I'm fine leaving home. The money factor is somewhat important though. I have recently been awarded at $3000 scholarship if I go to UofS and plus it is at least 35% less expensive for tuition (if you go out of province the price soars). However, McGill is said to be an incredible university all around. Right now I'm leaning towards McGill. You're thoughts?

    My second problem has to do with what degree I want to get.
    Undergraduate Degree Options:
    1) Engineering
    2) Physics
    3) Chemistry

    Honestly I don't think I want to spend my life making more man-made materials (engineering), but engineers do get paid higher than physists. If I get a degree in chemistry I'm afraid I'll end up working for a pharmaceutical company and that doesn't sound that fun, but I don't know for certain. A Ph.D (what I plan on getting eventually in the discipline I choose) in physics would be incredible...I think. I think being a professor would be a really neat profession as would doing reserach.

    Anyways, any assistance you can give me would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2009 #2
    Leave home.
    None of the people I know who have left home regret it.
    Almost all of the people I know who stayed at home wish they'd left.

    As for your degree, you have much more time to decide (at least, you should).
  4. Aug 9, 2009 #3


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    I might add a few other things to think about:
    - real estate/rental properties are significantly cheaper in Saskatchewan compared to downtown Montreal
    - Saskatchewan has the Canadian Light Source
    - in a smaller program there can be less competition and therefore relatively more opportunities for undregraduate research projects for each individual student
    - in a smaller program you will likely get to know your professors better and that will make it easier to get reference letters for graduate school if you decide on that route
    - I have known a few graduates from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as some from McGill. In my opinion, there is no difference in the quality of education received by either.

    As for program choice I might just point out that physicists don't necessarily make less money than engineers. Also, if the opportunity presents iteself, you might want to contact people in these various disciplines and see if you can shadow them for a day or so to find out exactly what they do in a typical day.
  5. Aug 9, 2009 #4


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    Well this is interesting because I think we can relate. I'm from Saskatchewan, and I ended up going to McGill. My opinion is that McGill is an incredible university, and living in Montreal is an absolutely great experience, so if you can afford it in one way or another you should definitely go. Please feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions on McGill, the physics program, or Montreal in genereal.

    The question of which degree to do is a bit tougher, because this depends highly on what you're passions, interests, and ambitions are. If you want to get a PhD, then maybe physics is the way to go, since it would probably lead to the most interesting career and it's not like they're making bad money. But you should be passionate about physics if you want to do this.
  6. Aug 9, 2009 #5


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    I don't know how true this is. You can get a nice place in downtown Montreal for ~500/month, and down to ~400/month if you branch out a bit. After a quick browse of Saskatoon craiglist, the prices seem roughly similar. At the very least, Montreal is much cheaper than, say, Toronto where you'd be paying ~750.
  7. Aug 9, 2009 #6
    Very informative. Thanks! I'm still a little weary though...I always thought that McGill was far superior to UofS.

    Wow, perfect! Montreal seems like a fantastic place to live, and it is enticing. I can afford it, but I'm still wondering if it is a necessary expense. How does it work for a Saskatchewan student going for a physics degree at McGill? What are the differences? I heard the first year you have to take a set of classes that Quebec students don't have to take.
    Thanks for the help!
  8. Aug 9, 2009 #7


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    Well the idea is that quebec students' high school goes up to grade 11, then the have 2 years of cegep, which is essentially grade 12 and first year university, then 3 years of university. So an out-of-province student who does high school up to grade 12 and 4 years of university basically does all the same classes.

    I'd say it is. But then again I'm biased :) But according to
    http://www.topuniversities.com/worlduniversityrankings/results/2008/overall_rankings/fullrankings/ [Broken]
    McGill is in the top 20 world wide. UofS doesn't make the top 500 as far as I can tell. Surely that's worth something. The best physics students at McGill get into Harvard for grad school. Do they at UofS? I don't know, but I doubt it.

    One great thing about the physics program at McGill is that the honors students take a whole different set of courses from the majors students, whereas at other universities usually to graduate with honors you just have to take a few more classes and have a good gpa. This really allows the better students to excel much more than the would at other universities, and the result is that they are probably better prepared for grad school.

    The research at McGill is also great. Honors students do a research project for their last two semesters... it's quite intense. The best honors students are also able to get NSERCs and do one or two summers of research. The faculty is incredibly strong and diverse, and people usually get to do something they enjoy and are interested in.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Aug 9, 2009 #8
    Wow, I'm sold. I want McGill for sure!
    Is it overly difficult to achieve honor standing? In high school I get mid to high 90's.

    Thank you so much
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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