Universities offer enlightenment, personal growth, skills for the future and life long memories, but none of these factors can exist if a student makes the wrong decision. I mentioned this variable in my last post and I wholeheartedly believe that finding the right fit is the most important factor when deciding which institution to attend. You can do research until you are blue in the face, covering employment statistics, graduation and retention rates, rankings, co-ops, international experiences and residence, but if the university just doesn’t feel right, all the perseverance in the world won’t help.
Recruiting prospective students is an extremely expensive process. University recruiters spend time in high schools, at various fairs, creating a positive social media footprint, hold information sessions after students receive their offers, have chat sessions, but the one thing that every university pushes is campus visits. The call to action of all the recruitment efforts isn’t necessarily the application, but rather having the students visit the campus as this can increase the chances of the student not only applying, but more importantly, matriculating.
Here are several ways to find out if a university is a right fit:
Attend the Ontario University Fair (OUF)
Every September, all 21 universities attend OUF as 100,000+ students and parents come to speak one on one with university representatives. This is an opportunity to compare and contrast your favourite universities side by side to help you make the best decision. The reason why it can help with the fit factor is that you will be able to speak with professors, Deans, Registrars, Provosts, Presidents and students alike. These are the people that you will be connecting with for the next 4 years. Get to know them, sponge up all the information you can, but more importantly ask about their own experiences at the university of interest.
Check out Virtual Tours
Sometimes it isn’t feasible to actually visit all the campuses you are interested in. If there isn’t a possibility that you can get Mom and Dad to take you to the campus over the summer holidays, most schools offer virtual tours. Thunder Bay for me is not likely a place I will visit over the course of the summer, but Lakehead University hasn’t left anything out with this virtual tour experience, check it out.
Book a Campus Tour
Every university has a variety of options to capture the essence of what it would be like to be a student there. Go online and register for a campus tour when you are in town. Often you will find that current students are conducting the tour so you can get a first hand account of the student experience as well as pertinent information regarding programs, residence and so on. Maybe you should head out to St. John’s Newfoundland this summer to see Memorial University.
Attend an Open House
In the Fall and Spring, you will find almost every university offers an open house for you to attend. This is absolutely the best way to discover if the campus is the right fit for you. Often you will find faculty presentations, residence tours, support structures open for discussion, admissions and financial aid teams available. This is the one stop shop to help make that big decision. Plan a trip to Saskatchewan for September 29, 2017.
Grade 11 might be a bit early to start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up, but you can start thinking what university you want to attend. If you have a general idea of what you might want to study, then start touring campuses. Not everyone has the luxury of doing a campus tour circuit all at once, so start chipping away at your short list of universities.