Declaration of Personal Experience

Your marks don’t always paint a complete picture of your academic potential. That’s why at the University of Ottawa, your admission does not solely depend on your academic average. We value the life experiences that every student brings to the University. Consequently, we have made it our mission to be more inclusive by encouraging access to university while still promoting academic excellence.

What does this mean for you?

Maybe your academic history is unusual or you’ve faced personal challenges. You can now improve your chances of admission by filling out a Declaration of Personal Experience if your academic average is below the minimum average listed for the program that interests you. A panel of expert faculty members will take into account experiences that reflect positively on your admission before making an admission decision.

Is this for anyone?

No. This is a pilot project, so for now, a Declaration of Personal Experience can only be submitted by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or those having refugee status. Moreover, Declarations will only be considered in decisions for admission to undergraduate programs in one of the direct-entry faculties, and will not be considered for admission to Faculty of Health Sciences programs or the Civil Law Section of the Faculty of Law.  Note that the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Education, and the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law use their own processes to assess a student’s personal experience.

How does it work?

You don’t need to send us a Declaration of Personal Experience; you should only send us a Declaration if you would like us to know about specific experiences or accomplishments that set you apart.

  1. Apply for admission.
  2. Fill out the Declaration of Personal Experience in your admission file in uoZone, the University’s secure student portal.
  3. Only complete one Declaration of Personal Experience, even if you are applying for admission to several programs.
  4. Only submit a Declaration of Personal Experience if your academic average is below the posted minimum average required for admission to the program(s) of interest to you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If my academic average is above the minimum average for admission to the program of interest to me, do I gain any advantage by completing a Declaration of Personal Experience?

No. Although admission is not guaranteed, applicants who can be admitted on the basis of their marks alone will be admitted solely based on these marks. However, we understand that academic results are not the only way for applicants to demonstrate that they are ready for university. Inclusive admission aims to widen admission to applicants whose admission average is below the required average by allowing them to highlight other aspects of their personal experiences that may be relevant. 

How do I know if my average is high enough and I don’t need to fill out the Declaration of Personal Experience?

Fill out the Declaration of Personal Experience if you expect your mid-year average to be lower than the minimum average for admission to the program to which you have applied.

Will submitting a Declaration improve my chances of being admitted into the immersion or co-op programs?

No.

Must I submit a Declaration for each program I want to apply for?

No. Only submit one Declaration. 

When will my Declaration be evaluated?

Your Declaration will be evaluated once we have received all your mid-year marks, and only if we see that your admission average is lower than the minimum average for admission to the program(s) you have applied for.

Can I use a Declaration to compensate for missing a prerequisite course?

No. You must complete the courses that are prerequisites for the program(s) to which you have applied.

Can I use this Declaration if I am an international student?

Because this project is still in its pilot phase, only Canadian students and students who have permanent resident or refugee status will be considered. For now, international students cannot use this form.

When should I submit the Declaration of Personal Experience?

You should submit a Declaration of Personal Experience as soon as you apply for admission. We recommend that you submit it once you get your mid-year results and you think that your end-of-year marks will be lower than the minimum average you need. The University will begin evaluating your Declaration once we’ve received your mid-year results. There is no deadline but any Declaration received after an admission decision has been issued will not be considered.
The same process applies to students who have completed their studies; submit the Declaration at the same time as your marks.

When will I receive the results of the evaluation of my form?

We will not be sending any feedback on the evaluation of the Declaration of Personal Experience. The amount of time required to evaluate an application for admission is subject to a number of factors. The University of Ottawa sends out its admission decisions as soon as possible once evaluations are complete. You can track the progress of the evaluation of your application for admission in the admission portal, which you can access through uoZone.

Who will evaluate my Declaration?

A group of professors from the Faculty that offers the program to which you have applied.

What is the deadline for submitting a Declaration of Personal Experience?

There is no specific deadline; however, the Declaration will not be considered if we receive it after the deadline for receiving missing documents or once a decision has been taken (i.e., admission denied.) You can submit a Declaration at any time before you receive an admission decision.

If my application for admission is denied, can I fill out a Declaration on Personal Experience and be admitted?

The Declaration of Personal Experience must be submitted in time to be considered during the evaluation of your admission documents. Declarations submitted after the University has issued a denial of admission will not be considered.

How should I answer the questions?

Answer the questions briefly and honestly; highlight aspects of your experiences that show why you are confident that you will succeed in university.

Which academic or extracurricular experiences should I include?
  • Participation in co-op programs
  • Enrollment in a Specialist High Skills Major
  • Intensive participation in a sport
  • Experience as the caregiver of a parent or loved one
  • Membership in a minority or marginalized group if you feel this may have prevented you from having the same opportunities for academic success or involvement as your peers (e.g. immigrant or refugee status, visible minority or indigenous persons, individuals coping with a handicap or health problem, sexual or gender minority (LGBQA or trans or non-binary individuals) etc.)
What questions are asked on the Declaration of Personal Experience form?

The form asks questions about how you spent your time outside of school, along with open-ended questions about your personal experiences and how they affected your decision to pursue university, and the impact of your circumstances on your marks.

How will my Declaration be evaluated?

Our approach to evaluating applications for admissions aims to take into consideration all of an applicant’s qualities to gain a general idea of their ability to succeed in university. No specific weighting is given to the answers given in the Declaration of Personal Experience.

Is it possible that I will be denied admission to a given program even though I submitted a Declaration of Personal Experience? 

Yes. Submitting a Declaration of Personal Experience does not guarantee admission. However, you may be offered admission to a program other than the one you applied for.

Are there tools or support to help students succeed once they start university?

Yes. The University of Ottawa has a full range of free services to help students succeed. In certain cases, applicants admitted on the basis of a Declaration of Personal Experience may need to comply with certain conditions during their first year to help them adjust to life at university and to ensure their success (i.e., receive academic help, a reduced workload, remedial courses for certain subjects, etc.). These measures will be set by the faculty members when the student is admitted and will be specific to each case.
Our research shows that students who make use of academic support services in their first year are less likely to drop out in second year than those who do not take advantage of such services. The University of Ottawa’s Student Academic Success Service offers a range of free services, including:

  • mentorship
  • tutoring (in math, chemistry, physics and philosophy)
  • the Academic Writing Help Centre
  • counselling and coaching
  • academic accommodations (support services) that are granted under certain circumstances. 
Does submitting a Declaration of Personal Experience increase my chances of receiving an admission scholarship?

No. The Declaration has no effect on the calculation of your admission average, which is used to determine eligibility for the automatic admission scholarship. 

Could the information I provide in the Declaration of Personal Experience reduce my chances of admission?

No. Students who are eligible for admission on the basis of their academic marks alone will not be penalized by the information provided in their Declaration. Those who would have automatically been denied admission now have a chance of being admitted.  The University of Ottawa is committed to providing its students, faculty members and support staff with a knowledge and leadership environment that fosters equity, diversity and inclusion. Moreover, the panel of experts that evaluate the declarations have been trained to be aware of unconscious cognitive biases so that they can overcome barriers to inclusion and build a more equitable and inclusive university community.

What will happen if someone other than the student answers the questions in the Declaration of Personal Experience?

The evaluation committee may request proof or check some of the information provided in the declaration (i.e., ask for a medical certificate). A Declaration of Personal Experience that is false, or for which supporting documents cannot be provided, may be excluded from consideration during the admission process.

Will the Declaration of Personal Experience be available for admissions during the winter 2019 term?

No. The Declaration will only be used for applications for admissions for programs that begin in September 2019.

Can I save my Declaration of Personal Experience for future applications?

No. If you submit a new application in the future, you will also need to submit a new Declaration of Personal Experience.

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