First Year University Program Insight Needed

Feb 16, 2021
1 posts

First Year University Program Insight Needed

I'm a grade 12 student planning to go into University next year. My ultimate plan is to go into law school so I really just need an undergrad that isn't impossible to do well in + a good back up in case my plans get delayed.

Notes: Due to scholarships I have recieved (or exepct to) I will be able to graduate without any debt at all universities listed. Neither me nor my parents have a preferance for staying home or leaving.

Does any know/ have heard of the programs below and maybe can provide some insight on which one would be best?

Waterloo ( Arts and Business Program)
- Honours BA which means it is more focused on skills needed for law
- Business focus makes it employable
- Prospective Major: Legal Studies + Political Science minor OR Political science major + legal studies minor
- 4 co-op terms
- better co-op program//reputation

Ryerson ( Business Management Program)
- BComm which means it is highly employable
- Prospective Major: Business and Law + Accounting Mjnor + Labour Relations Minor
- Good skills for both persuing law and in case I didn't want to persue law
- 4 term co-op
- Ryerson Business Law Clinic (gives hands on experience for 3rd/4th year students)
- Only business program with a legal focus
- I would be staying home with my parents.

York University ( BA + fastracked MMgt )
- BA in Political Science OR Law and Society ( Legal Studies)
- Master of Management at the York business school ( this presumably also makes it employable + attractive to law school?)
- Internships available in summer terms
- I would be staying home for this too
4 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jul 12, 2008
5945 posts
I attended at least 1 school on your list, you should be ok with any of them. If I had to choose now, I would go with any of the programs from York.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
2012 posts
The co-op option will generally give you a leg up on others.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
6695 posts
I agree with the comments about co-op. Also don't underestimate the benefits of living away from home if you have the opportunity to and it makes sense. Yes it's more expensive but in my experience that's when you learn the most (as a person), rather than just getting the paper.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 9, 2010
1341 posts
Waterloo Arts & Business grad here & Waterloo native who lived at home during undergrad. I’m about 5 years out of school now so hopefully my perspective will help.

Let me say this off the bat: the flavour of your degree has nothing to do with your employability, other than being a checkbox during screening. Employers don’t care what you majored in or where you went. I’ve been through more than a few interviews myself and have conducted some as an interviewer, and the degree itself was never a point of discussion. Hell, I know development teams who don’t even care if you have a CS or related degree or not, as long as you know your programming concepts and demonstrate skill in coding things.

What IS valuable is the experience you gain through those ~4 years and the networks you build for yourself in the process with your peers. And of course, co-op is infinitely better than not doing co-op as you’ll have actual work experience and references to help you land a full time job afterwards.

I’ll also say, while a fast tracked Masters degree sounds nice on paper, in my opinion it’s just a cash grab by the university and won’t give you any leg up in employability without more than a few years of work experience under your belt. Nothing worse than a Master level business grad with no real experience thinking they can consult for companies, or expecting higher pay and title based on their credential. Again, my anecdotal experience but I’ve worked with more than a few people (friends included) who went straight for a Masters after undergrad, took on a bunch of extra debt, and then worked at my company in the same or lessor role than I did. How’s that for ROI?

If you’re going for Law School then just go straight for it, don’t fall for the Masters distraction.

So, it sounds like you’re leaning into business focused programs to hedge for employability while Law School is your main goal. This is smart, and those generally make good combinations of skills. That said, what areas of Law and Business are you interested in? Accounting? Finance? Marketing? Criminal Law? Corporate Counsel? Think about it and try to work towards the fields you have an interest in.

I’ll also say that between your choices I’d go to Ryerson, one big reason being that it’s close to home. Yeah, yeah, I understand that independence is a big draw and a great experience, but living on your own isn’t cheap and if you can stay with your parents to save extra money then I’d highly recommend it. Put those savings towards Law School, or a car, or a house (like we’ll ever be able to afford something decent, but that’s a topic for another thread), or anything else of value to your future. Waterloo is a good city with decent amenities, but it’s sure as hell no Toronto - as a young person Toronto is definitely the place to be. You’re presumably not going to be paying rent to live there so take the better city for entertainment, in my opinion. And of course, that Business Law Clinic sounds like it’s be helpful, if nothing else to help you understand if you really want to be in Law or not.

My experience at Waterloo was good, but if I could go back in time I’d have gone to Laurier BBA instead. Why? Partially because some friends went through the program, partially because Business at Laurier is better than Waterloo, and partially because social life and networking is way better than Waterloo. As an undergrad I spent way more time on Laurier campus and attending Laurier parties; overall it’s just a more vibrant school with more outgoing people. Don’t make the mistake I did and discount Laurier just because it’s not as “prestigious” - undergrad prestige doesn’t mean anything unless you go to a top school in the States like Harvard or Cornell or something.

Waterloo, by comparison, is drab and has no school spirit. Most people have their blinders on going from class to class and then back to their room to study, and there aren’t as many easy opportunities to get to know people. You’ll have to make a big effort (it’s definitely doable) compared to other schools. Ryerson and Laurier may have reps as party schools but what’s wrong with that? The people are more open and the babes/dudes are hotter. I want to stress this point: social life is KEY to your undergrad experience and will shape who you become, as well as what opportunities will open themselves up to you in the future. Some of my best friends today, in my case, were Laurier grads who went to school the same time I did, who also happened to work with me at various points post-graduation and were immensely helpful and supportive.

Also, the business portion of the Arts & Business program was trash back in the day. Didn’t learn anything of value (wow, 4P’s of marketing and GAAP principles, highly in demand stuff…); as compared to a regular arts program you’re mandated to take some ECON, basic CS and some Business courses, but the real focus is on your major courses. If you’re set on going to Waterloo, aim a little higher for CS & Business, or AFM for example, but again I’d just go to Laurier.

Finally, someone who is in law can chime in, but I don’t think your major matters for your application to Law School either, so basically you don’t have to choose Legal Studies. What I’ve heard in the past is that people with Philosophy or Math majors tend to do better as you’re required to show logic and critical thinking under pressure, as well as being able to parse large amounts of information and distill them down to their essential arguments. Not a lawyer and this is hearsay, but putting it out there for your consideration.

Hope this is helpful & best of luck to you - it’s been a crappy time to be a student these days so I feel for you, and if you’ve got other questions on this stuff I’m happy to help.