Researching Ontario universities: The top 5 resources

Ontario is an education powerhouse

There are so many great Ontario universities to choose from! Help make the choice easier by following these tips!

Summer may be nearing its end, but for high school seniors, an exciting time is ahead – and no, we’re not talking about prom (although I still have fond memories of that joyous occasion). Whether you head to university, college or straight to the workforce, there are many things to think about as you enter your last year of high school.

While I knew early in my high school career that I would ultimately go to university, the task of deciding which one was daunting – especially with 21 universities to choose from in Ontario alone.

Luckily, there were plenty of resources available to help me make that choice. Whether you’re still in high school or thinking of entering postsecondary education as a mature student, here are the top 5 resources to help you research your Ontario university options:

1.    eINFO | www.electronicinfo.ca: eINFO is a great starting point for all the information you’ll need on  programs, admission requirements, residences, campus visits, and more.

The Internet has an endless assortment of information, but what I find unique and especially helpful about eINFO is that it’s the only online database updated directly by Ontario’s universities year-round, so you know you’re getting the most up-to-date information available.

I also found the site extremely useful in helping me compare universities that offer the programs I was interested in, to give me an idea of costs associated with each school, and to inform me of the prerequisites needed to apply. Plus, there’s a search function that let me search all the scholarships that might apply.

The site was recently revamped and now has an updated look, is more user-friendly, and easier to navigate. The new eINFO is also mobile-friendly and accessible so you can easily browse anytime, anywhere. It’s set to launch at the end of August – just in time for you to start your research!

2.    Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) | www.ouf.ca: OUF is the most attended educational fair in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. While I didn’t attend when I was in high school, I wish I had! The OUF provides a terrific opportunity to speak with representatives from Ontario’s universities when they take over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for this fair each fall. This year’s event takes place September 19-21, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.

I have been to the OUF since high school as part of my job and I’m continually impressed by how it stands out compared to other educational fairs, in part because it’s the only event in the Toronto area where all Ontario universities are represented. There is also no other fair where you can speak directly to Ontario university representatives (including faculty and current students!) under one roof.

Each university has a creatively designed booth and offers scheduled presentations – each of which give you a chance to learn first-hand about programs, courses, extracurricular activities, residence, internships, scholarships and more. The best part? It’s free and you don’t have to register!

Stay up-to-date on what’s going on at OUF and join live tweets from the fair:@OntarioUniFair, #OUF2014, www.facebook.com/OntarioUFair.

3.    University Information Program (UIP) | www.ouf.ca/uip/: When I was narrowing down my university choices, I couldn’t make it to the OUF, but I did get my questions answered through the University Information Program when it stopped at my high school. If you’re in the same boat or just need more information from your favourite Ontario universities, rest assured that they travel across Ontario after the OUF with smaller-scale events.

Starting at the end of September and scheduled throughout October, UIPs are hosted in most Ontario regions, and representatives from each Ontario university are there.

I remember being excited to learn more about universities that were too far away from my hometown to visit. It was so convenient that they were coming to me! This was the next best thing to visiting the campus. The representatives at UIP are extremely knowledgeable.

The UIPs are set up either as fairs or presentations, sometimes both, and are often hosted at local high schools. They allow students to speak one-on-one with university representatives.

Check out the schedule on the UIP website to see when Ontario’s universities will be in your region.

4.    University websites and publications | www.ouac.on.ca/unilinks/:When I was closer to narrowing down my selection, Ontario university websites and publications were – and still are – the best resources for admission requirements and specific program options.

Collect these materials from the OUF or the UIP or request more information directly from the universities you are zeroing in on. Requesting information from universities directly is especially helpful when you want specific details about a particular program or residence.

5.    Open houses and campus tours | www.electronicinfo.ca: When I figured out which universities were my top choices, I visited a few of the campuses to see what could be in store for the next four years.

Most Ontario universities offer campus tours year-round, open houses throughout the fall, and March break events in the spring. Visit eINFO or university websites for full details.

It’s important to choose a school that offers the program you’re interested in; but you will also want to make sure the campus, residence and surrounding city also fits with your lifestyle. Each campus has its own unique flair and needs to be a space in which you want to spend time – because you’ll be spending a lot of it there!

After all the research, questions and visits, I narrowed down my university choices to my top three. Once you have your choices figured out and what courses you need to get there, visit the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre website. This site has important information and deadlines for the application process.

Carla WhiteCarla White is a Communications Specialist by day, and a hobbyist writer, photographer and baker by night. She received her BA in English Rhetoric and Professional Writing from the University of Waterloo and is currently an editor at the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. When she’s not busy using her red pen, Carla loves losing herself in a good book or movie, spending time with family and friends, creating new things in the kitchen, and using the Oxford comma.