Notable alumnus: Trent Henry is chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.
Students say: “UPEI has everything I wanted out of university: it has the riotous parties, the pride in athletics, world-class teachers and more.”
– Ryan Mccarvill, third-year business
Small is beautiful
Students: 4,300 students
Cost: $6,800 or $7,800 (out of province)
Pro: Free bus to the ski hill
Con: Mediocre ski hill
Tiny Wolfville (population: 4,269) is your classic university town. Ivy grows thick on the brick walls of quaint buildings, the town is home to as many students as permanent residents, and football is almost a religion. And don’t forget the parties. Linda Frum’s classic university guide recommends bringing your Animal House soundtrack, and students say her advice is not outdated. Although Western schools such as UNBC and Lethbridge have begun challenging the East Coast’s dominance when it comes to undergrad-focused education, Acadia remains one of the strongest liberal arts schools in the country. Its biology program is a highlight.
Hotshot prof: Jon Saklofske, literature professor, recently published a paper about a multiplayer video game for editing scholarly works.
Notable alumnus: Peter MacKay Was named the federal Minister Of Justice and Attorney General in the most recent cabinet shuffle.
Students say: “You’ll see someone you know whenever you go out and everyone always has a smile.”
– Lindsay Doucet, fourth-year mathematics
Cape Breton University
Training leaders in oil and gas
Cost: $5,100 or $6,200 (out of province)
Pro: Access to professors
Con: Lack of co-op and internship opportunities
CBU exists to serve its community, which explains why it responded to Atlantic Canada’s growing oil and gas industry by developing programs in petroleum technology and engineering. CBU was the first university in Canada to offer a bachelor of arts in community studies, in which students learn through community projects. With low entry requirements – a high-school average of 65 per cent qualifies applicants for most programs – CBU is dedicated to accessibility.
Hotshot prof: Allen Britten, chemistry professor, has mentored students conducting field work analyzing soil and water in India.
Notable alumnus: Stephen Eagar starred with his brothers, Jeff and Chris, in the Gemini-nominated television program Which Way To…
Students say: “What I like most about Cape Breton University is the sense of community – that feeling that you’re connected in almost a patriotic sense to the university itself.”
– Brennan Boudreau, third-year political science
Cozy school in foggy Halifax
Pro: Huge intramural participation
Con: Few rez spaces available after first year and no nearby “student ghetto”
Dalhousie offers the perks of a large, research-intensive university while maintaining a small-campus feel. The ocean sciences department is internationally renowned and attracts leading researchers such as Douglas Wallace, who holds the Canada Chair for Ocean Science and Technology. Although known as a “science school,” students can also take classes at Dalhousie’s eccentric, artsy cousin University of King’s College.
Hotshot prof: Jeff Dahn was the 2009 recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching medal awarded by the Canadian Association of Physicists.
Notable alumnus: After completing a degree at Dalhousie at 14, Erik Demaine went on to become the youngest professor ever at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
University of King’s College
Philosophy on the Atlantic
Pro: Tight-knit community
Con: Lack of employment opportunities
Founded in 1789, King’s is one of English Canada’s oldest universities and its 18th-century sensibilities remain. Every month everyone on campus dresses in their Sunday finest for a shared meal that begins with grace recited in Latin. This intimate campus community has its pluses, but students say it feels like a “fish bowl.” Hotshot prof: Stephen D. Snobelen, a historian of science, co-founded the Newton Project Canada that publishes Sir Issac Newton’s lesser-known writings.
Notable alumnus: Miriam Toews, author of bestselling novels including A Complicated Kindness, studied journalism.
Students say: “For students without a clear direction of study, the Foundation Year Programme
is a great [and challenging] introduction to the humanities. One warning: Be prepared to write – a lot.”