Z is for Zero-Based Budgeting

If you’re involved in the corporate world, you may have heard the term Zero-Based Budgeting being tossed around. I sure have. It’s often associated with cost-cutting and aggressive financial restructuring, but I wouldn’t say those things are synonymous with the term. In fact, I’d say that Zero-Based Budgeting is a type of planning for the future that makes a lot of sense — to a point. Let me explain.

Many companies budget for a particular year based on the prior year. They simply look at the overall number, or perhaps the number per department, assume that they’ll need to spend the same amount next year or a flat percentage increase or decrease, and write that new number down in their budgets. If your business is fairly stable in its expenses, that makes sense: it saves a lot of time budgeting, and gives you a solid baseline for coming years. However, when you budget based on the prior year, this kind of thing might happen:

To recap, department or branch heads might not want a savings to appear on their final numbers for a year, because it would mean budget cuts for next year — if you didn’t need it this year, why would you need it next year? It’s kind of sketchy, and it also leads to something else you saw in the video: managers not understanding their budgets. I know, I know, it’s Michael Scott. But if the budget is just a big pool of money, it’s not a stretch that those in charge might not know where it’s all going.

So what can businesses do instead?

Let’s consider personal finance for a moment. How do you build your own budget for your household (if you have one)? If you’re starting from scratch, you might get out a piece of paper or a spreadsheet and start listing monthly expenditures:

  • House payments
  • Utilities
  • Car payments
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment
  • Etc.

Then you’ll come up with how much each of those line items will cost you in the month. That may be based on an actual bill amount, last month’s spending, or an educated guess (e.g. “We’ll probably go to the movies once a month, so that’s about $80 if we get popcorn, and maybe out for dinner…” — you get the idea). Once you’re done, you have a full budget, and you know where all of the money needs to go.

This is Zero-Based Budgeting.

Whether it’s applied to your personal life or your business, Zero-Based Budgeting is simply the concept of starting from scratch (zero-based) and building up a budget based on specific line items. It creates more accountability, visibility, and practicality than plucking some big, round numbers from last year’s budget. And knowing where your money is going can lead to savings, because you don’t budget beyond what you really need. Obviously, it’s a little harder with a large company, because the expenditures can come from more than a handful of people, who can be spread out beyond the confines of a single household. Some companies will have Zero-Based Budgeting officers or teams to manage the process as they prepare a reasonable budget throughout the year for next year.

Z is for Zero-Based Budgeting

I don’t know why there is a potato in this picture, but I just couldn’t pass it up.

But what are the downsides?

When you are creating your own personal budget, you want to balance smart choices with quality of life. Sure, you could budget $0 for entertainment or clothing and save all of that money, but is that realistic?

But when Zero-Based Budgeting is used in the workplace, there are other factors at play — specifically, shareholders, boards of directors, executives, and all the other people that want to see a great bottom line. So while you may have come up with a perfectly reasonable zero-based budget for your team, there may still be pressure to cut the budget by a certain percentage or eliminate additional costs. And then what? You have to choose between those carefully-selected line items and values, and decide what you will do without for the year, even though each item was something you interpreted as a need for your business function.

Another shortfall of Zero-Based Budgeting is the potential absence in a corporate budget of something that most people build into their personal budget: an emergency fund. If you’re unsure about the need for an emergency fund in your home budget, check out this article by the fab financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. But as I mentioned earlier, some key players in your company may not want to see “just in case” line items in your budget, because that money may be frittered away à la Michael Scott in the video. So that’s one of the first lines to get cut.

And what happens when there is an emergency, or even just a change of plans (or something that was forgotten during the budgeting process)? Then you don’t have the money in the budget to accommodate, and because each dollar is assigned to a particular expenditure, you can’t just move money around to make it work. You may have to beg or barter your way out of this one. And every one after that.

What’s the solution?

Zero-Based Budgeting is a fantastic idea, if your company allows budgets that are realistic and flexible enough for contingencies. In order to be sustainable, these budgets should include an emergency fund, just like a personal budget. And if no one uses the emergency fund in a given year, it’s illogical to take it away for the following year. Keep the savings, of course, but still include an emergency fund in the next budget.

But who am I to make these recommendations? Well, the way I see it, Zero-Based Budgeting is all about common sense and transparency. And if you’re transparent about using common sense to plan for the unexpected, then Zero-Based Budgeting will be a great way to manage your personal and professional finances for many years to come. For a deeper dive into ZBB, check out this paper from Deloitte.

What are your thoughts on Zero-Based Budgeting?


P.S. This is the last post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! We made it! Thanks for joining me on this fun and hectic journey over the past thirty days.

Y is for Year of Big Changes

Today is my and my boyfriend’s anniversary! As my parents have pointed out, nobody cares about dating anniversaries. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time to look back on the past year and reflect on everything the past year has brought. Plus, it’s now been a full year since we both left Queen’s University, so there have been a lot of changes in the past year. Let’s recap.

I Got a Diploma

Ayyy, look at that, I graduated!

 Y is for Year of Big Changes — Graduation

Looking back on it, I would say the degree I chose to complete was neither the best nor the worst choice for me. Would I do it again? Sure. Would I change some things? Absolutely. But no point in dwelling on the past — onto the future!

Big Girl Job

Technically, my job at Tim Hortons didn’t really start out as a big girl job. We were still hired as a group of thirty new(ish) grads, and were still considered the “kids” at the company. But now, a year later, the new crop of hires will start trickling in soon, and I won’t be the new kid on the block anymore!

Moved Out (for real this time)

Throughout university, I lived on and off campus with roommates, so the concept of not living at home wasn’t new to me. However, the biggest change I’ve noticed since moving out for real is that I don’t think of my parents’ place as “home”. Because it’s not. When I “go home”, it’s now to my own place, where I get to decide where stuff goes and how I live in it. So far, no complaints.

Got a Cat!

 Y is for Year of Big Changes — Lorelai

This little kitty was our best decision. Lorelai brightens our mood, our day, and our home. She is so affectionate and playful. She is currently pawing at me for pets.

Signed up for Ipsy

This may not sound like a big deal, but signing up for Ipsy Glam Bags marked a big step forward for me. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone when it came to makeup. Having samples catered to me really helped me accomplish that.

Spent Holidays this Year as a Couple

Y is for Year of Big Changes — Christmas

Like Christmas, for example!

It’s official: now that Joe and I are living together, we must now attend all family holiday functions together, or not at all. Well, okay, that’s not true, but that seemed to be the expectation. But we were okay with that.

Starting This Blog

Writing a blog has been on my bucket list for years. The planets aligned this past December, combined with the right amount of motivation, creative energy, and Internet research, and now the blog is a reality. Here’s hoping I stick with it.

First Cruise

I’ve been on vacation before, but before this March, I had never been on a cruise. As I discussed in another post, it’s nice to have lots to see and do in multiple countries, while still enjoying the comfort of a single room in which to sleep and store your things. It’s definitely the type of vacation Joe and I will do again soon.


There are a lot of big-ticket life changes on this list, and I’m probably forgetting some as well. Basically, it’s been a big year. Onto Round 2 of the real world!

What big life changes have you had in the past year?

X is for Xanthous — Pinterest Finds in Yellow

I’m going to level with you all here: X is a hard letter to blog with. But because this is the third-last letter of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I didn’t want to cop out now with a word that doesn’t actually start with X (like “eXcellent”), so instead I spent much of the day Googling my options. And here’s what I came up with: xanthous! It is an archaic word for “yellow”, so I’m just taking it at face value.

When I think of my favourite colours, I’ll admit that yellow isn’t one of them. However, I have noticed that a lot of my favourite colours — navy blue, purple, rich greys — all look great with yellow!

In the spirit of second chances, I’m taking this “letter X” opportunity to reconsider how to incorporate this colour into various aspects of life. Hope you enjoy my Pinterest finds in various categories, all incorporating the colour yellow. Click on any of the images to see the original Pin!

Colour Schemes with Yellow

 Yellow Colour Palette

 Yellow Colour Palette

 Yellow Colour Palette - Purple and Ochre

Flowers

Yellow Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Yellow Dahlias

Dahlias – such delicate petals!

Yellow Mimosa

Mimosa – I had never seen them in this colour before!

Clothing and Accessories

Navy and yellow outfit

Mustard and navy casual wear

Yellow Office Attire

Perfect look for my office: cardigan with a minimal pattern

Yellow Dress

Structured dress with a vintage flair

Around the House

Yellow: When Life Gives You Lemons Print

Now that Beyoncé’s new album is out, this is pretty topical! This print is super cute, and the Etsy shop from which you can buy it, OldEnglishCo, makes a lot of neat prints and products with the same script feel.

Using yellow as a pop of colour in an otherwise neutral room

Using yellow as a pop of colour in an otherwise neutral room

Yellow Bookshelf

A unique way to showcase your books! #shelfie

Yellow upcycled bicycle planter

Very cool upcycled bicycle planter!

I hope you enjoyed these Pinterest finds! Share your own picks in the comments below.

Stay tuned for the next two days, when we will be wrapping up the last letters of the alphabet in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

W is for Wonderland

In the summer after Ninth Grade, my dad told me I needed to get a job. Unfortunately, my birthday wasn’t until September, and most retail and service positions weren’t open to me until I turned sixteen. So instead, I turned one of the only large-scale employers of young people in my area: Canada’s Wonderland.

Canada's Wonderland

Looks like so much fun, right?

I ended up in the Games Department as a carnie. Okay, the official title was “Games Salesperson”. You know those people that yell at you on a microphone that you should “Come on down to Ring Toss”? Yep, that was me!

Now eventually, I moved up and became a supervisor, and ultimately spent six summers of my life in that place. There were…ups and downs. I’ll just leave it at that for now.

There are a lot of myths out there about working at an amusement park. I can’t speak for all of them, but I can tell you a little bit about my experiences — or, rather, provide the answers to some of my FAQs about working in Games at Canada’s Wonderland.

No, the games aren’t rigged.

First of all, that’s illegal. And yes, Torontonians, I know the games at the Ex are rigged. But it’s not worth the risk. So how do we make our money, then? The games are hard, and we buy the prizes in bulk at quite a discount.

Yes, we get into Wonderland for free. No, the food and merch isn’t free.

Of course, we get free admission to the park throughout our tenure as employees. We also earn free tickets (albeit very slowly). But the most we’ll get is a discount on Merch, and it’s not for every level of employee, either. The way it plays out is that most Wonderland employees are around 16 years old, so the allure of free admission is supposed to be enough to keep them around.

No, they don’t teach us how to guess your age/weight/birth month.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. There is no secret to Fool the Guesser. You know, the game where the carnie can guess something about you, and if they’re wrong, you win a prize? Well, the carnie isn’t taught how to guess more accurately. In fact, most employees will only get a brief description of how the game works before being left alone for their first time as the Guesser. But if that’s the case, how can Wonderland afford such terrible Guessers? Simple. The markup on the prizes is high enough to net a profit regardless. So it’s essentially just random chance, plus the experience level of the employee, if they’ve been running the game for a while.

To all you, ahem, middle-aged women out there: please don’t make them guess your age. And if you do, please don’t be upset if they guess it right. It’s just a lose-lose situation all around.

No, the park doesn’t close when it rains.

The rides will close in the event of a thunderstorm, for sure, but in general, the park stays open, except in very severe cases on very slow days. So if you’re ever at Wonderland and the rides close, why not play some games until the rain lets up? 😉

No, we can’t accept tips.

I’m not sure if this is common across most theme parks, but Wonderland has a strict no-cash-on-hand policy for employees that handle company money. Don’t be offended if an employee turns down a tip, and definitely leave them a compliment (with their supervisor or at Guest Services) instead. And don’t tempt the newer employees with the cash, either. Sometimes they forget. That’s always an awkward conversation.


That’s all I have for now! What would you like to know about working at Canada’s Wonderland? What theme park work experiences have you had? Let me know in the comments!

V is for Vocalish - My Arts School Experience

While the vast majority of my university career was focused on science, my high school life was all about the music. I attended an arts school, and it was pretty much exactly like you’d expect:

Arts School - Glee

This was music class.  

Arts School - High School Musical

All the time.

Arts School - Uptown Funk

All day, everyday.

Well, maybe not. Yes, we actually had to go to real classes, and only the dance students danced in the hallways (and only sometimes).

I was an instrumental music student. That means I lugged my clarinet to and from school every single day, attended band rehearsals two or three nights a week, and (I think) prolonged my orthodontic treatments in my quest for a better embouchure. To those of you who played a larger instrument in your arts school and are rolling your eyes at my use of the word “lugged”: it was heavy, okay?! I ended up doing pretty well, participating in competition-level bands and getting a solid grade as well. I considered majoring in music in university for all of five seconds, before I realized that I had no desire to practice my instrument ever again once I graduated.

Arts School - Please don't make me play the clarinet...

Okay, but why does the title of this post say “Vocalish” rather than Instrumentalist — and what does “Vocalish” even mean?

First of all, today is “V” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. So that’s one reason.

But the real reason is that I also had quite a bit of involvement with the vocal class in our school. (For reference, there was a woodwind class, a brass class, and a vocal class in each grade.) I really like singing, and it was quite easy to pick up without requiring much practice outside of the classroom or the choir rehearsal. I ended up also joining the competitive choir, which was a really great experience — and I was the only instrumentalist that joined.

There are lots of reasons for that, like the time commitment and the skill required to audition, but another consideration was the stigma that instrumental students attached to vocalists. There was a widespread belief that the singers were divas, and that vocal music doesn’t require nearly as much intellectual power as instrumental music does.

Arts School — Haters Gonna Hate

Given my “vocalish” status, I wasn’t one to take sides. Sure, my vocal music didn’t require much at-home practice compared to my clarinet pieces, but those alto harmonies were hard, not to mention working on tone, timbre, and enunciation, especially in languages you have no hope of understanding in time to perform. Plus, those arts school stereotypes were totally unhelpful.

So in the end, I graduated from high school with extracurricular “credits” in both choir and band. And while I was technically a graduate of the instrumental class, the vocal program still holds a special place in my heart. Besides, I don’t play my clarinet along with the radio while driving down the highway… but I don’t miss that chance to belt it out.

Did you attend an arts school? What forms of art are special to you?

U is for Universe

It’s been a year since I was last immersed in science and exposed to science-loving people at all times, and it has come to my attention that not everyone in the “real world” has thought as much about the universe as I have. Not only have many of my classes been focused on space science, but even the websites and resources I’ve come across over the years have deepened my knowledge of and interest in space. So, for those of you who haven’t spent years of your life studying the universe but still think it’s kinda cool, I’m sharing some of the websites that have helped me learn more about space, and even get involved in the science.

Scale: How Big is the Universe, Anyway?

A lot of people have a hard time thinking about the universe beyond our solar system. It’s easy to just say “Wow, it’s big”, but never really think about it.

Well, for starters, the observable universe is about 92 billion light-years across. And how big is a light-year? It’s the distance light can travel in one year; light travels about 300,000,000 metres in a single second, so… yeah, I definitely can’t fathom that size.

Rather than giving up, try checking out the flash site, The Scale of the Universe. It allows you to zoom in and out, from the Planck length (about 0.000000000000000000000000000000000001ish metres), up to the size of an average human, all the way up to the size of the observable universe (about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres). It will give you a little taste of how big the universe really is, but actually with some context.

Space as a Canvas: Astrophotography

I’ve mentioned APOD, or Astronomy Picture of the Day, in a previous post. If you like space because it’s pretty (and it makes for a really impressive Pinterest board, tbh), this is definitely a site you’ll want to bookmark. And you might learn a thing or two from the descriptions on the photos, too!

Zooniverse Space Projects: Crowdfunded Astronomy

I’ll just take the summary of Zooniverse from their website, so they can explain for themselves why it’s so cool:

“The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers—hundreds of thousands of people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Our goal is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and many publications.”

This is an opportunity for anyone — yes, literally anyone — to participate in science research in a gamified environment. My favourite Zooniverse projects are Planet Hunters, in which you help find planets around other stars as seen by the Kepler Space Telescope, and Galaxy Zoo, in which you help classify galaxies that have just been discovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

We live in a really cool time in history. Not only are we discovering new planets, stars, and galaxies, but some of the people helping to make those discoveries are non-scientists sitting at home in their PJs!


I hope you enjoy learning more about our universe from these sites, and others! Do you have any resources to share?

 U is for Universe — Milky Way

T is for Tired

T is a great letter with which to start words. Not only do you have a vast array of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and even adverbs starting with the hard “T” sound to choose from, but there are the “Th”s as well! So in participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I was rather looking forward to all of my options for the letter T. But I am just so tired. And it has put a serious burden on my creativity.

For starters, I have been getting around six and a half hours of sleep a night. That doesn’t sound too bad, but when you compare it to the previous few weeks, in which I was getting around seven and a half hours of shuteye, it’s a serious blow to the routine. Like most people, my sleep quality is all about routine. Honestly, this blog is a big part of the reason that I’m not getting to bed on time. I generally write my posts in the evening and schedule them for the morning, and I’ve been working on them rather late recently. But it’s not the blog’s fault, per se. It’s more that I get sucked into the Internet trap for hours because I’ve got my browser open for the blog anyway. Plus, reading and commenting on other blogs is so addictive.

Then there’s the cat, who has been insisting on waking me up over and over to play or pet her. The unfortunate thing is that tired, half-awake me pets her without consideration. Then I wake up for real, and realize that all I’ve done is reinforce her bad behaviour. I could lock her out of the bedroom, but I definitely can’t sleep through the yowling and the pawing at the door.

This rotten sleep schedule has also contributed to a nasty little caffeine habit at work. As I’ve mentioned, I get free Tim Hortons coffee at work, and the coffee machine is literally within view of my desk, so I always know when there’s a fresh pot.

My intention is to rectify this for next week, so that I can return to the A to Z Challenge on Monday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the last 7 letters of the alphabet. That means getting to bed on time, and therefore starting my blog writing earlier in the day, plus cutting back on the caffeine (at least a little bit). Wish me luck!

What are your tips to avoid feeling tired?

S is for Shelfie

For today’s letter S post, as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I wanted to share a shelfie — a picture of my bookshelf to give you a snapshot of my reading habits. But then I realized that my books are too well-organized around my house. I’ve got each bookshelf categorized, so no one picture would sufficiently capture my literary persona. So instead, I took shelfies of all of my shelves!

Shelfie Collage

Ta-da!

I wish I could say I was one of those people with beautiful, inspirational bookshelves. But I simply have too many books for that!

This image is a little overwhelming, so let’s break it down a bit.

Shelfie Set 1: The Beige Bookshelf

Shelfie Number 1

First up, we have a mix of books that can fix into my smallest shelf! Here you’ll see my diaries (note that I titled one of them myself in the sixth grade), some notebooks, and all of my published books on the right-hand side. And also the large wristband that came with my Fitbit. Maybe I should put that away somewhere…

Shelfie Number 2

This one I’ll call the creative shelf. All of my writing-related instructional books are here, plus some more notebooks. That tube is my BScH diploma that I still have yet to frame. Priorities, right?

Shelfie Number 3

Hey look, textbooks! And on the right-hand side, those coil-bound books are actually all the same book; they’re various iterations of my novel, The Source (which you can read about here).

Shelfie Set 2: The White Bookshelf

Shelfie Number 4

Welcome to Journal Land! Literally everything on this shelf is a notebook of some kind. My notebook collection size was around a hundred at one point… I have a bit of an addiction. But they’re always a good go-to when someone doesn’t know what to get me for Christmas. (Plus, I can’t resist a journal sale at Chapters!)

Shelfie Number 5

This is my Sci Fi shelf, but one of these things is not like the other! I’ll let you figure out which one is the odd book out.

Shelfie Number 6

This shelf is a little more philosophical. Plus, those white coiled books are the story anthologies published when I placed in the Brampton Library’s Short Story Contests in Grades One and Two! Ah, memories.

Shelfie Set 3: The Red Bookshelf

This bookshelf doesn’t entirely belong to me, but there are some things to be shared here.

Shelfie Number 7

On the right you have science-y type books (plus A Year of Living Biblically), and on the right you have business-y type books (plus Room and CatSpeak)! I could reorganize the books that are out of place, but it’s more fun this way. The trophy in the middle used to have a stuck-on plaque that said “Best Student: Hillary Flinn”, thanks to my grandfather (after finishing Grade One), but the plaque fell off to reveal my dad’s Junior Badminton tournament win. Why do I still have it? Because no one else wanted to store it on their own shelves, of course!

Half a Shelfie

And finally, we have a little bit of a shelf, since Joe’s books are on the other half. Kind of random; essentially, these were the books I missed when I was organizing these shelves in the first place. Plus, a llama from ByWard Market!


So those are my shelfies! Now that I’ve started using my Kindle a little more, I imagine my bookshelves won’t change much for the next while — but hey, I can still amass great quantities of notebooks!

Have you taken your own shelfies? Post links in the comments!

R is for Reboot

Have you noticed how many “reboot” or “revival” shows are on the air on the works right now in television? It seems to have started with movies: sequels, prequels, remakes, basically any excuse to milk a franchise for all it’s worth. I’m thinking Star Wars, Die Hard, all of the Spidermans (Spidermen? Just kidding.), and even Miracle on 34th Street or The Grinch (the originals are the best!).

Movies and television shows are very different, though, in their expected sense of closure. Unless a movie is part of a pre-defined series, the plot should essentially wrap up at the end. A story-line in a TV show, on the other hand, often isn’t expected to wrap up at the end of a season, let alone at the end of an episode. Then comes the unexpected cancellation of a favourite show, leaving fans reeling in disappointment with so many unanswered questions. Even shows with a defined arc and a clear, planned ending usually leave their viewers wondering what would have happened next. But now, with the advent of the reboot, there’s hope for us all! Here are some of the current or future rebooted TV shows for which I’m super pumped.

The X-Files

 X-Files Reboot

I talked about the 2016 mini-series in this post and this post, so you can read about my thoughts on The X-Files there. Overall, the series was decent, and I have to say, I’m very happy it came back for the short time that it did. Six more episodes of the X-Files was exactly what I needed. Though I will say that if you haven’t seen the original series before, you should definitely get a taste of that first. Start with the Pilot on Netflix.

Gilmore Girls

 Gilmore Girls Reboot

I watched this entire series in the span of a couple of months during university. I fell in love with the characters and was very invested in their well-being. And while the ending (not to spoil anything) was sweet and relatively non-cliffhanger-y, it still left a lot of things unsaid. Hearing that four new episodes of the Gilmore Girls were being produced was so exciting. But I hope we’re all happy with the direction the Palladinos take it!

Girl Meets World

I watched Boy Meets World because I related to Cory, Topanga, and friends. Now I’m a bit old for the humour and subject matter featured in the spinoff. However, I definitely appreciate that the merit of the original series made it worthy of a return to TV. In summary, I’m excited about the show, but not necessary to watch the show.

The Powerpuff Girls

Really? Yes, really. Actually, I noticed this one when everyone started changing their Facebook profile photos to Powerpuff Girl icons of themselves.

R is for Reboot — Powerpuff Yourself

Hey look, it’s me as a Powerpuff Girl!

This may just be a straight continuation of the series (with different voice actors), but it will be interesting to see if anything changes as compared to the original from over 15 years ago.

ReBoot

 ReBoot: The Guardian Code

A reboot of ReBoot? Well, not exactly — it’s a continuation/spinoff. But still! I loved ReBoot as a kid, and I would definitely check out The Guardian Code when it airs, if only for nostalgia purposes.


What reboots or revivals are you excited for? What shows would you love to see brought back to life?

Q is for Queens — A University Review

Exactly one year ago, I was studying for the final exam of my university career at Queens. (It was Nuclear and Particle Physics, if you’re curious. Yeah. Good times.) It was a bittersweet time, of course: saying goodbye to friends and routines, and hello to the real world of the daily grind. I have to say, I’m definitely very happy that I’m not slogging through exams right now. But some of you out there are currently looking at university right now as your next big step, rather than your nemesis. Yes, I’m talking to the high schoolers. If you’ve received an acceptance to Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and are weighing your options, or if you are in another phase of your life and wondering about what’s next for you or a loved one, let me share some of the most important things for you to consider.

Queens is big on culture.

Queens University Flag

Queens College colours we are wearing once again…

Some Queens students and alumni seriously bleed tricolour. The school is massively invested in its Scottish and academic heritage, as well as its tight-knit community and culture. Honestly, this wasn’t a big factor for me, but it did tend to attract generally nice people as students, which was fortunate for everyone. If you’re interested in showing school pride at various sporting and cultural events, this is a great place to be.

Kingston is kind of remote, but moderately cultured.

The downtown core of Kingston is very close to campus, so Queens influences quite a bit of the city’s identity. The Royal Military College and St. Lawrence College also play a role here. While Kingston has a lot of history, being Canada’s original capital city and everything, it doesn’t have a ton going on. Most of its industry is dependent upon the schools as well. It doesn’t compare to Ottawa or Toronto, for example, but there’s more going on than in London or Waterloo, for sure.

Also, because it’s remote, most students aren’t able to live at home while attending. I believe that living in residence and off-campus without parents is an extremely valuable experience, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do university any other way. I would recommend spending at least a semester or a year away from home (barring financial difficulties, of course).

Having the lake so close to campus is awesome.

All you have to do is cross the street at the south end of main campus to get this view:

Q is for Queens — Lake Ontario in Winter

Naturally, because it’s Canada, my only nice shot of the lake is in winter.

It’s really amazing to be able to go for a walk, study, or hang out by the lake at any time. (Even in winter, apparently.) This amplifies the beauty of the campus, which is already pretty sweet in its own right. (Except for the math building.)

Queens is expensive.

This is a school that’s known for its wealth. I studied in the “cheapest” program, with tuition costs around $6,500 per year, but it’s really the housing and student fees that hurt the wallet. You’ll get a quality education out of it (small class sizes, famous profs, great gym facilities included, etc.), but you’ll pay for it.

It’s a great school for a CV.

This may be a factor for some of you, especially those considering competitive post-grad studies or careers. Queens has a great reputation in many fields, but it’s for good reason; you will actually have to work hard to do well, in general.

However, I have heard from some Life Sci and Bio students that this may not be the case for Med School. It seems that the notoriously difficult Life Sci program tends to negatively impact GPAs for students who would otherwise have done very well and made it into Med School via another undergrad program. Also, keep in mind that some professional schools don’t require you to major in the subject that will be your eventual focus, as long as you have your prerequisites covered.

Clubs galore.

Queens often touts its impressive number of clubs, teams, and associations. I really wish I had taken better advantage of these opportunities while I was in school. Though, to be fair, there’s only so much time in your day, so seek out what interests you and what will benefit you as you strive toward your ultimate career and life goals.


My reasons for picking Queens were a little more simplistic, and a little less valuable:

  • It’s Scottish, and I’m part Scottish.
  • It’s far from home, so I didn’t have to live at home.
  • It’s pretty.
  • My parents liked it.

But if you’re putting a little more thought into your university decisions (or helping a loved one decide), be sure to take these points into account.

Gaels, anything you’d add to this list?

Cha gheill!