The OUF takes place over a weekend in October in downtown Toronto; almost 70,000 Ontario high school students attend every year. The Fair is one of the it puts interested students in the same space as eager university admissions officers, who also use as part of their campaigns. This article will outline what the Ontario University Fair is, what’s involved, why you should, or shouldn’t, attend, and what you need to know before you go to get the most out of it.
The Ontario University Fair is an academic convention, where you and your family can speak with as many different Ontario university representatives as you want (only Ontario universities are represented; no other are in attendance). The OUF is the place to be if you’re not sure where you want to go to university after high school, or if you are unsure whether you want to go to university at all.
At the Ontario University Fair, you can learn more about each school’s academic programs, living, recreational and fitness facilities (if you want to live in residence), acceptance rates, campus life, and what kind of varsity sports the school is involved in. You can also learn , and , which is a little different than and since you’ll be using the system, which is a unique application system for Ontario. While only universities in Ontario are in attendance, the event is open to everyone, regardless of their home province.
But given the for out-of-province students, many Canadian high school students are choosing to stay in their home province, which is why the Ontario University Fair is such an important event. Ontario has 40% of all university students in Canada; it is also home to the most universities, and five Ontario universities make up the U15, which are the fifteen for research. All these factors mean that Ontario high school students don’t have to go far to find the or the , as they are all located in one place.
Applying to Ontario universities? Check this out how to tackle the hardest part of the OUAC application:
The main event of the Ontario University Fair is the weekend convention in Toronto, but there are regional fairs that cover all four regions of Ontario including:
- Northwestern Ontario
- Ottawa and Eastern Ontario
- Southwestern Ontario
- Central Eastern Ontario
These events also take place over two days, and all 23 universities send representatives so students and their families in these areas can find out all about universities in other regions other than their own without travelling to Toronto.
The Ontario University Fair is a two-day event, so there’s a lot to do. The event takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, so it’s more than just series of booths for each university. Many universities, especially those in smaller Ontario cities, such as , go out of their way to showcase their campus environment with life-sized pictures and posters.
Many universities hold special events and presentations for their respective schools, if you want a more in-depth picture of what they have to offer, in terms of academic programs, campus facilities, financial aid and research opportunities. The Ontario University Fair has also introduced more interactive displays, along with easier ways to share contact information. If you want to get more information about a particular university, you can ask a representative to scan your pass, so they can send you more information online.
But, at the core of the Ontario University Fair are the exhibitor booths. This is where university recruitment and admissions officers, current students, and often, professors, promote their school by telling students about everything they want to know. Each booth is staffed with representatives who know everything about the school from admission requirements and campus facilities to , and any other distinctive qualities that set each university apart.
Before you even go to the Ontario University Fair, you must register for the event. You can as either a student, parent, guardian, teacher or guidance counselor; many Ontario high schools outside of Toronto organize field trips for their students to attend the OUF. When you register, you share relevant information like your contact information, as well as when you plan on entering university. After you register, you’ll be issued an OUEvents Pass that you can pick up at the event. The OUEvents Pass has a barcode with this information, so when a university representative scan it, they’ll know more about you and where to send more information about the university.
One of the most enticing aspects of OUF is its inclusivity. Every publicly funded university in Ontario participates, so you’ll have a diverse and comprehensive spectrum of options to choose from, which includes smaller universities in Northern Ontario to the Royal Military College in Kingston, but colleges in Ontario are not among the schools who participate. This wide-range of schools means that you can explore an extensive range of disciplines, from arts and sciences to engineering, natural sciences, and beyond.
Instructional Workshops and Seminars
Workshops and seminars are another integral part of the Ontario University Fair. These workshops are important for several reasons; say you’re not sure on which or you’re eligible for, or what kinds of financial support you can get. At the OUF, you’ll find out how to apply to several of these scholarships, what kinds of requirements they have, and whether they are .
But then again, maybe you’re not sure about how to apply to universities in Ontario, and if that’s the case then the OUF can also help. You can get expert guidance from recruitment officials and others involved in university admissions to help guide you on what you need to include in your . Additionally, OUF is a hub of interactive activities. You can participate in hands-on experiments, art demonstrations, and technology showcases that give you an up-close look at the practical aspects of certain fields, such as engineering, biology, neuroscience, visual arts or archaeology.
Engaging directly with university representatives, professors, and current students means you can foster meaningful connections with people who you potentially might see every day. You can also leave a good impression on the very people who might decide whether you’ll be admitted to their school, so long as you pose specific questions about a school’s acceptance rates, degree programs, size of student population, support services for students, student-to-faculty ratio, and tuition rates.
By exploring multiple universities under one roof, you can more easily compare programs, faculty expertise, campus facilities, and extracurricular offerings rather than only viewing one institution at a time. This comparative analysis is what makes the Ontario University Fair so invaluable, you have all the vital resources and information you need in one place, without having to go to the time and expense of visiting each campus.
Virtual and Hybrid Formats
In response to several challenges, from COVID to inflation and rising costs, the Ontario University Fair has embraced virtual and hybrid formats. These formats allow you to participate remotely, while still giving you access to the representatives of each school. You’ll be able to ask questions of school administrators, faculty and current students and the wealth of information each has about their home school. You’ll also participate in live chats with university representatives, or attend webinars that delve into specific programs. Virtual campus tours are another important feature of the Ontario University Fair’s virtual sessions. These campus tours can bring the university experience to you, so you don’t have to worry about travelling long distances, while universities can reach a wider and broader audience.
1. Scholarship and Financial Aid Information
OUF provides a platform where you can directly inquire about scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid options available at different universities. Understanding the various funding opportunities can significantly impact your decision-making process, making OUF an essential event for prospective students.
2. Insights into Campus Life
Beyond information about academic programs, financial aid and scholarships, the Ontario University Fair can also offer insight into daily life on a university campus. You can learn more about non-academic factors such as housing, student clubs, athletics, and cultural activities. University is more about studying. The OUF can help you understand the holistic university experience at each university in Ontario and can help you choose a campus that aligns with your interests and preferences.
3. Inspirational Stories
Alumni feature heavily at the Ontario University Fair. They are a valuable resource to help you decide which university is the right one for you, as they have the knowledge and experience of what it’s like to attend these universities and graduate. Many universities use the opportunity to showcase alumni who have achieved remarkable success in various fields, as a form of social proof that they produce only the best. But learning about these achievements can be inspiring and give you a glimpse of the potential career paths and opportunities available after to you after graduation.
4. Faculty Interactions
The Ontario University Fair is an important venue to meet and interact with professors and faculty members from different departments. A lot of students attend the OUF not knowing which program to enter let alone what they want to do as a career. Engaging in conversations about specific courses, research opportunities, and academic resources can give you a deeper understanding of the academic rigor and expertise available at each institution. Having a heart-to-heart with expert faculty can illuminate a path you didn’t know was there, and it’s something you can’t do from reading information online.
5. Portfolio Reviews
Among the universities that send representatives to the Ontario University Fair are the Ontario College of Art and Design, as well as , the latter of which has a world-renowned music program. For students interested in art, design, music, or theatre programs, some universities offer portfolio reviews during OUF. These reviews are not binding, so don’t expect them to offer you admission on the spot! However, they can review your materials and offer constructive criticism about how you can improve your portfolio, or whether you need to add more in order to gain admissions. This direct, personalized interaction with faculty members can, hopefully, enhance your chances of acceptance into competitive programs.
6. Internship and Co-op Programs
Many universities in Ontario offer internship and co-op programs that provide valuable work experience alongside academic studies. OUF is an excellent platform to learn about these opportunities and how they can enhance your education and employability. These types of opportunities are especially important if you want to gain hands-on experience in a particular field or industry after graduation. You can find out more about what industry partnerships a university has, and whether they even have co-op placements.
7. Career Development Services
Perhaps the most important role of any university is preparing students for their future endeavors. Regardless of whether you want to attend any of the , or any of the , or any of the , you should have confidence that your undergraduate school will be able to help you achieve those heights. This means inquiring about what kind of career development services a university offers, including resume workshops, interview preparation, and job placement assistance. Understanding the support available for your future career endeavors is essential, making OUF a valuable resource.
1. Distance and Travel Constraints
If you live far from Toronto, where the fair is held, and the travel expenses are a significant burden, it might be challenging to justify attending. Again, if you’re not from Toronto you also have to factor in other costs associated with the spending the weekend in the city, such as accommodation, food, and transportation, which even for two days, can add up. In this case, you might be better off attending the virtual information sessions, or explore online resources and university websites, which are more practical options.
2. Time Limitations
If you have a very tight schedule due to academic commitments, work, or personal responsibilities, spending a whole day or two at the Ontario University Fair might not be feasible. If you’re applying to several universities, then you need to put a lot of time and effort into preparing your applications, especially if you’re applying to programs that require application materials such as , or . In such situations, you can explore university websites, virtual campus tours, and online webinars to gather information at your own pace.
3. Already Decided on a University
If you have already made a decision about the university you want to attend and have completed thorough research, or even applied, attending the Ontario University Fair might not be necessary. However, if you are still considering multiple options, attending can provide reassurance and additional insights.
4. Universities Have Other Motives
While going to university in Canada is not as big a “business” as it is in the US, universities in Canada also worry about increasing their revenue by attracting more students. This means they are not always the most impartial source of information. If you don’t want to be “sold” on a university, or want a more objective view, then you should talk to impartial sources, such as teachers, guidance counselors and other who can give you an unvarnished view of what these universities offer, or don’t, and offer options that are more in-line with your academic goals and personality.
1. Prepare Good Questions
Come prepared with specific questions about programs, admissions criteria, campus life, and any other aspects that are important to you. University representatives are there to help, so don’t hesitate to ask. Some important questions you can ask include:
“What is the minimum grade average to get into a program?”
“What are the prerequisites to get into a specific program?”
“What is your retention or graduation rate?”
“What is the average class size?”
2. Take a Lot of Notes
While a lot of information you get from the Ontario University Fair is publicly available, you also want to jot down key points or interesting details about each university you visit. These notes will be valuable when you’re comparing your options later. To do this, you should bring and carry a notebook and a pen to take notes, or you can also write notes on your phone. You can also keep a folder to keep brochures and information you collect from different universities. Having a structured way to organize materials will be helpful.
3. Arrive Early
The Ontario University Fair, along with the regional fairs, are usually all-day events, starting at 10 am and going until 5 pm. While that may seem like a lot of time, you want to get there early, mostly to avoid the crowds that can gather at especially popular schools. You will also have more time throughout the day to speak one-on-one with specific individuals, or, you can take the opposite route and have short conversations with as many university representatives as possible.
4. Be Open-Minded and Attend Information Sessions
While you may have preferences (and there’s nothing wrong with that), you are going to the Ontario University Fair for a specific reason – to learn as much as you can about all the universities in Ontario, not just the ones you’re interested in. You should be open to exploring universities and programs that you haven’t considered before; you might just be surprised. You might discover options that align perfectly with your interests and goals, especially after you’ve attended a university’s specific information session or presentations during the fair. You’ll get a lot of details about specific programs, admission requirements and campus life from these sessions so make it a point to attend.
1. What is the Ontario University Fair?
The Ontario University Fair is a free event organized by Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) to help students in Ontario decide where they should go.
2. Where is the Ontario University Fair held?
The main Ontario University Fair is held in downtown Toronto, usually one a weekend in October. There are regional university fairs held at various locations across Ontario where you can also attend a convention-like event with all the universities in Ontario in attendance.
3. Is the Ontario University Fair free to attend?
Yes, there is no entrance fee to get into the Ontario University Fair nor any of the regional events.
4. How can I register for the Ontario University Fair?
You can register for the Ontario University Fair online. You have to identify yourself as a student, parent, guardian, teacher or guidance counselor. If you’re a student, you also have to include an estimated start date for your university studies.
5. What do I need to bring to the Ontario University Fair?
You can bring a notebook and folder to keep all the brochures you’ll get and to take notes. You can also bring portfolios and other application materials to see whether admission officers can give you any advice. But you should ask representatives first, before you show them your materials.
6. Can I attend as a current high school student?
Yes, you don’t have to be graduating high school to attend the Ontario University Fair.
7. Do I have to be from Ontario to attend the Ontario University Fair?
No, you can be from out-of-province, as long as you register beforehand.
8. Should I go to the Ontario University Fair?
It’s up to you. If you’re not from Toronto, then there are peripheral costs you have to think about (transportation, food, accommodation), but you can always wait until the regional fairs roll around to your town. We outlined some of the reasons not to go, but if none of those apply to you, and you’re still undecided about where to go to school, the Ontario University Fair is one of the best resources for you.