Ontario University Fair: The Survival Kit

For those of you who are in the process of deciding which universities you’d like to apply to: settle in, everyone, Grand-mère Jasmin has some wisdom to throw down.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: choosing a university is one of the biggest and most life-changing investments of your life. There’s a lot of options to choose from, even just within Ontario. A really great way to check out the maximum amount of campuses while covering the minimum amount of ground is by attending the Ontario University Fair (OUF) this weekend (September 22-24).

OUF is a huge event, and without a little preparation could seem a little overwhelming. Luckily for you, I’ve got a few insider tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the day.

Come Prepared

These two posts will give you an idea of the kinds of questions that will help you have meaningful conversations about the university experience with the people who know best – students.

  • There’s so much more to choosing a university than just the programs they offer. Make a wishlist of things you want out of your university experience: mine, for example, looked like this:
  1. I want a university that has community: close to/in the city centre, less anonymity, relationships with the faculty
  2. I want a program that has a liberal-arts focus, where I can tailor my degree to reflect my interests
  3. I want a university that values academic excellence (hence attending a Russell Group university during my first year, and applying to UofT and Glendon when I transferred)
  4. I want to study somewhere that will give me transferable skills, and where I can start building a career before I graduate

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  • Dress for the occasion: you’ll be walking around a huge room with a concrete floor, so wear comfortable shoes. Bring a tote bag to carry all your handbooks and uni swag in.
  • Bring a bottle of water, a small snack (avoid ones with nuts, in case you meet anyone with a severe allergy after eating it), cough lozenges, and hand sanitizer – you’ll be talking and shaking hands with people all day!
  • Come with an open mind: it’s likely to change. When I was first applying for unis, I thought I had it all figured out — but being open to adapting those ideas was the most important lesson I’ve ever learned. Your interests will inevitably grow, expand, and change over the years you spend in uni, and that’s okay.

On the day

  • Plan your route: especially if you’re driving in, or taking the TTC on the Sunday. It’s a big event, and parking may be scarce.
  • Have a game plan: do some research, and pick a few booths you want to visit first
  • Break the game plan: explore and investigate the booths you perhaps hadn’t heard about, but happen to draw your eye. You never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet there!
  • Don’t be shy: I love my job because I get to have incredible conversations with students and families from all walks of life. Remember, we are not here to “sell” our uni to you, we’re here to help you figure out if it’s the right one for you. In my experience, the best way to get to know a campus is to get to know its people.

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When you get home

This will probably be you:

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  • Make a list of your lasting impressions: which booths stood out to you, and why? Which conversations gave you food for thought? How did the day change the way you think about your dream future uni?
  • Read the literature: those booklets and handbooks took a long time to make — they are designed to represent the unis they come from. Read them — they’re truly very useful.
  • Connect: most campuses will have an online presence — follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with future opportunities to visit and to see what they’re up to.

I hope these little tips helped, and if you end up going to OUF, let me know what you think!

 

 

 

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