OUAC. It sounds like a cat hurling up phlegm. Sure, it’s a word that’s composed of 75% vowels (something I had previously thought impossible), and no, it doesn’t stand for, “Only Uranium Assails Cyborgs.” Instead, it’s actually an on-line method of applying to university, and it’s more confusing than Hamlet and Macbeth combined. With a bit of A Tale of Two Cities thrown in for good measure.
It’s not that OUAC.on.ca is a difficult website to navigate through or anything. A monkey missing half its brain cells could figure it out. First you click on, “undergraduate applications.” Then, “select by program,” or, “select by university.” After choosing six programs and getting the payment set up, you can send your application in.
The problem is all the choices. Going into grade 12, there were three science courses: physics, chemistry, and biology. At the University of Waterloo, you could make a whole category for courses that start with, “bio,” offer a co-op, have a three-year degree and four-year degree offered, were created in 1978 by someone named, “Paul,” and sound like a flavour of ice cream if you say the name really fast. Meaning, in addition to biomedical engineering, there’s bioinformatics, biotechology, and biotechnology with economics or chartered accountancy, with an option of co-op.
I figured I could start my applications, stop for a moment to wonder if Will Smith makes any sense at all as the main character of “I Am Legend,” stare into space for a few minutes, choose my programs, realize that “choose” has way too many o’s in it, and then finish my application, all in about five minutes. I already had my top three program and university choices figured out, and it seemed safe to assume that finding, “health sciences,” on a list of programs wouldn’t be all that tricky.
It’s the click after finding the program where it all gets complicated. Suddenly, you have to enter the Expected Date of Enrollment, an Unexpected Date of Enrollment, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, if you’d like to apply to a co-op, the subject of major interest, the year code, and whether or not you think naming a kid “Lawrence” should be considered a form of child abuse (yes, I made that last one up, and yes, I think the minimum sentence should be life imprisonment.)
It was like opening a physics test to the first page, and suddenly realizing that you have no clue what Newton’s three laws are (and then feeling relief after realizing that you’re just writing a hypothetical test used as an analogy in an opinion column). Printing off a little list that said, “health sciences, biomedical engineering, and biology,” wasn’t quite getting all the necessary information ready.
Then there was deciding the order to put the universities in. I hadn’t thought it would really matter to anyone other than me, of course, but according to one of the guidance counselors at my school, whether it’s your first choice or not, the University of Toronto likes seeing its name first on the list.
I made sure to put it down as #3.