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Applying to Canadian University Programs? Need a Referee or Contact Person on Your Application?

Applications to university programs in Canada do not generally require full letters of reference (fine arts programs are a major exception), However, a growing number of schools ask students to provide the name of a referee who can be contacted to verify information. In the case of the University of British Columbia and the most selective programs at McMaster University, for example, the referee is asked to vouch for the accuracy of the entire application. For the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western, students must provide contact information for the person who supervised each of the activities they have chosen to highlight on their application.

Students must ask permission before they put someone’s name as a reference. If that person is supposed to verify all the information on your application, please provide him or her with a copy of the completed application to check before you submit it to the university. If you are asking the person to verify an activity, then you should share what you have written (again, before you press “send”) in order to ensure that that is fully accurate. In a previous year, we had a number of students who jeopardized their offers of admission because they did not go through this process and there were errors or embellishments in their applications that meant the referee could not vouch for the authenticity of what was written. Please do not put yourself (or your referee) in this awkward position!