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Getting admitted to school as "mature student" with terrible academic history?

[OP]
Newbie
Dec 22, 2015
3 posts
Toronto, ON

Getting admitted to school as "mature student" with terrible academic history?

Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on getting admitted an undergraduate university program as a "mature student" after failing out before.

A brief background on my situation:

Attended McMaster fresh out of high school for a general social sciences program (huge mistake). Realized it was not at all what I was interested in about half a semester in, and instead of withdrawing I just didn't go to class for the first year. Had abysmal grades, only passed 60% of my courses and flunked out. (2012)

Went to George Brown the next year for project management and pretty much did the same thing.. (2013)

After flunking out again, I started a business at the right time and got extremely lucky and things took off, so I've been doing that since. The company was acquired by a competitor from overseas recently and now I'm pretty much retired with nothing to do.

I was thinking it was a good time to go back to school given that I've got nothing but time on my hands. I've learned a lot about myself & what I like from running a business and want to pursue those passions - I was thinking that picking up a compsci degree would be a good start.

That leaves me in my situation now - I have no idea where to start nor do I know if it is even a possibility.

Any advice on how to proceed on gaining admission (if it is even possible) to a decent compsci program is greatly appreciated.
3 replies
Deal Expert
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Nov 15, 2004
19845 posts
3826 upvotes
Toronto
Sign up for Continuing Education at a school and then use that to transition to the regular day school if you've got the time. Take courses that will carry over.

Most certificate programs don't have prerequisites, and will allow the school to build a profile on you for acceptance to a regular program.
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Nov 19, 2014
910 posts
247 upvotes
Most schools like Humber college, George Brown, BCIT, SAIT have pretty lax admissions. I'm guessing for a decent number of programs it's based on seat availability versus selection purely on grades, unless admissions says otherwise.

A few issues and questions:

1) Which computer science school do you want to go to? Why? Are you looking to become a programmer or just looking to learn to program?

If it's the former, the vast majority of Canadian schools are the same, they're seen as tier C or D by elite technology companies. Waterloo has by far the highest standing (it's basically on equal footing with Stanford or Berkeley). With UofT a distant second (Tier B, upper Tier C), and all the rest.

2) Having said that, you can graduate from whatever program, but if you suck at programming, your degree won't save you. There are college dropouts that code at the best companies, and people with good grades out of good schools that get canned constantly because they can't code. You'll find people out of 9 month programs with decent programming jobs that can code better than someone with a UofT Comp Sci degree who remains unemployed/underemployed.

You become an elite coder by programming a lot by yourself, doing online challenges, building stuff you're interested in. Your professor won't be able to make you a good programmer, there are enough elites software engineers here (at Amazon, Microsoft, Google) reading this that will back me on everything I've written for #1 and #2.

3) The fact that you were kicked out twice will mean if asked, you'll have to check the "yes" box for the academic probation/dismissal question a lot of university/college programs have. That could harm you. There's a difference between being kicked out at age 18, then coming back at age 20 after doing much better at a local college and working a little. Getting kicked out twice, that's going to be rough to explain because it doesn't sound like you've been out of school for that long (if you have, then it's not that big of a problem).

4) How big is your company that got bought? Is it a company an admissions person would hear of? Because a lot of people in Vancouver/Toronto "created" their own companies, and it gets bought "overseas" (an outsourcing, construction or real estate company funded by rich parents, that got bought by their rich parent's friends or relatives). That doesn't say much to admissions, a lot of 25 year-old Chinese Canadian or Indo Canadian own some sort of "construction" or "real estate" start up backed by their parents that end-up overseas.

Now, if your company got bought by Alibaba. Or you got capital from Y-Combinator, that's totally different. That says a lot and admissions people will definitely overlook bad grades.
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Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Apr 20, 2011
5310 posts
481 upvotes
Vancouver
fox557 wrote: Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on getting admitted an undergraduate university program as a "mature student" after failing out before.

A brief background on my situation:

Attended McMaster fresh out of high school for a general social sciences program (huge mistake). Realized it was not at all what I was interested in about half a semester in, and instead of withdrawing I just didn't go to class for the first year. Had abysmal grades, only passed 60% of my courses and flunked out. (2012)

Went to George Brown the next year for project management and pretty much did the same thing.. (2013)

After flunking out again, I started a business at the right time and got extremely lucky and things took off, so I've been doing that since. The company was acquired by a competitor from overseas recently and now I'm pretty much retired with nothing to do.

I was thinking it was a good time to go back to school given that I've got nothing but time on my hands. I've learned a lot about myself & what I like from running a business and want to pursue those passions - I was thinking that picking up a compsci degree would be a good start.

That leaves me in my situation now - I have no idea where to start nor do I know if it is even a possibility.

Any advice on how to proceed on gaining admission (if it is even possible) to a decent compsci program is greatly appreciated.
People that actually live in Vancouver will know more about the schools, and in particular, for any person concerned about getting into the two big ones, UBC or SFU, there are plenty of ways to bypass the normal requirements and still come out with a nromal degree. In particular, the BC institute of Technlogy is known for very rigorous entry requirements and intense studies, more so in many cases than a 'university'. Canadian post secondary institutions vary widely in how they are viewed. A decent C/V especially with your own 'thing' that got purchased will mean a lot to a recruiter for a university.

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