Heya, is Crimson familiar with universities in France or Germany? I’d love to hear about the application processes and I’m interested in these 3 countries…
For Canada, if you’re an international student (for this answer I am going to assume you are), you essentially apply directly to each individual university, with the exception of universities in Ontario. Those go through a system called the OUAC (Ontario Universities’ Application Centre), which is kind of like the Common App but for Ontario only. You only use the OUAC if you apply to more than one uni in Ontario - for instance, I only applied to Toronto, so I didn’t need to use OUAC, but my friend applied to Toronto as well as Waterloo and McMaster, so she did.
The majority of unis do not require any kind of essay. However UBC requires a personal profile, which is a series of 6 to 7 200-word questions about the student that aim to evaluate them holistically (extracurriculars, sports, etc). Toronto only requires an essay for very select programmes such as engineering or if the person applies to the most selective college in the uni (Trinity). Otherwise, you can get away without writing anything for pretty much any of them, which is nice. The highest emphasis is placed on your GPA and academic rigour - IB counts for more than standard American classes, for instance. Of course, many Canadian unis like to see diversity, so international students actually stand a very good chance. The requirements are not mega high either, at least for IB students: 28-34 for Toronto and UBC (depending on the program), 36 for McGill.
And that’s basically it for Canada!
As for Germany and France, you apply directly to the universities as well.
Undergraduate university is free under the condition that you speak the language of instruction - German or French. If you only speak English the price jumps way, way up, and it’s difficult to get in as an “international” (i.e. non-language speaking) student. Most ask for general motivation letters that are around 500 words/1 page (why do you want to study at this uni, why do you want to do this program, etc). Again, the highest emphasis is placed on academics and less so on extracurriculars. Most of the time the American diploma is not considered rigorous enough to merit a place in European universities, so if someone finishes without the IB/European baccalaureate/A-Levels they MUST take the SAT (ACT in some schools but it’s not as widely accepted) to prove they are academically strong enough to succeed at the uni. Acceptance rates in German and French universities are quite low, considering that thousands of “gymnasium” and “lycée” students flood the application system each year and since they all attend elite programmes, the general strength of applications is very high.
Hope this helps!