If you want to get into a great university in the United States or Canada, then you were at College Fair 2014 this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad.

Or maybe you’re one of the unlucky few who couldn’t attend. Fear not — we went and did some research for you.

College Fair — a collaborative effort by the United States Embassy and the High Commission of Canada — gives students the opportunity to chat face-to-face with admissions counselors, recruiters, assistant registrars and administrators about what they can expect from the application process, and what each school offers applicants.

When it comes to deciding on what school you should attend, you’ve really got to focus on the details. Do you want to study in a big city, or would you be more focused in a quieter college town where there’s fewer distractions? Do you have the funds to pay for your tuition, books, room and board, or are you going to need a full-ride scholarship: one that covers 100% of your school costs? Do you need to take any additional exams like the SAT or ACT to get into your dream programme?

The University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada certainly doesn’t require any extra entrance exams. According to Effie Gatsinos, Assistant Registrar, Student Recruitment at Admission Services, students need six courses: 2 at the CAPE level and 4 CXCs. “What the specific courses are would depend on which discipline or area they’re interested in.”

For other schools, like St. John’s University in New York City, the SAT is more than just an admission requirement, it’s a surefire way to get your entire school experience funded — that is, once your SAT or ACT score is top-of-the-line.

Says Kristy Allan, International Admission Counselor: “We do offer academic scholarships for international students and they are based on SAT scores or ACT scores and their high school GPA and CXCs. [Financial aid] ranges from US $5,000 a year to full tuition. Not a lot of schools in the United States cover full tuition for international students, but we do; we’re very generous with our academic scholarships. More than 90% of our students do not pay the full fee, both international and domestic, but they do have to take the SAT for that.”

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If you’re interested in studying film —a fast-growing field in the Caribbean — acting, screenwriting or even musical theatre, the New York Film Academy may be a great place to start. The top film school boasts alumni like Glee actress (and screenwriter) Naya Rivera, and Life of Pi actor Vibish Sivakumar.

NYFA offers discounts for their degree programmes, or any programme of a year or more, which includes their conservatories. “We have two different types: the talent-based discount, which will be based on an audition or a portfolio review, and then we have a need-based tuition discount which is based on the family’s finances,” says Gil Enrique Matos, NYFA’s Director of Enrolment and Business Affairs for Latin America, Caribbean and Spain. “Both of those things can be combined and typically they can be worth anywhere between US $8,000 and $15,000 per year.”

But what about getting in? “It depends on what you’re looking for,” says Matos. “If you’re looking for any type of degree programme, you’re going to need to do either a portfolio review or an audition for one of our musical theatre or acting courses. Aside from the regular application, two letters of recommendation, transcripts and all the regular stuff that other schools ask for.”

Interested in studying something more unconventional that isn’t offered at UWI or UTT? Schools like the University of Guelph, Humber College and the Savannah College of Art and Design offer undergraduate programmes like Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, and Interactive Design and Game Development.

Maybe you want to study in a place where you can really embrace extracurricular life. St John’s University boasts 180 clubs and organisations for almost any interest or passion you might have, while the University of Guelph’s focus on sustainability means they’re looking for people who care about the environment. At the very least, most schools are interested in students who look past a purely academic experience. “They’re engaged, whether it’s through sports and athletics or student government and clubs,” says Gatsinos, Assistant Registrar, Student Recruitment at Admission Services at the University of Guelph . “They want to make a difference, they want to volunteer, they have a strong commitment to sustainability — we’re seen as a green university, so students who are passionate about the environment want to come.”

If you’re ready to start applying, or you’re just doing your research for now, check out more of the schools who were at College Fair 2014.

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