Online vs. Fairs: Searching for Schools in 2017

By Kai Dao Modified on October 13, 2017

Should you search online or attend a fair to learn about schools? Grade 11 student, Kai Dao, speaks from her own experience!

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As a Grade 11 student in the 21st century, I imagine finding the right school is both easier and harder than previous years: easier due to all the publicity schools get, and the ease of which information about schools can be found; harder because of the rising cost of tuition, the more competitive atmosphere, and the larger selection.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, schools can reach further than the city or region they are located in. Students can use various school and program matching websites such as Schoolfinder.com, myBlueprint.ca, Universitystudy.ca, eInfo.ca, and many more.

Each website has a different method of matching student to school, but what they all have in common are massive databases of school information that students, parents, and teachers can search through to find the perfect program that suits their needs, lifestyles, and interests.

Schoolfinder.com, along with myBlueprint.ca, has been a big help for matching me with the right program. Both websites have a ‘career quiz’ where a selection of questions are asked, and based on your answers a potential career is given. Schoolfinder.com can also provide you with newsletters and emails directly from the school of your choice.

On September 23, 2017, I visited the Ontario Universities’ Fair (“OUF”) with my mother. It opened at 10 a.m. but it was quite some ways away for us so I had to wake up early – too early – on a Saturday. It was all worth it in the end though; the OUF showcased a wide variety of universities across Ontario, which is implied by the name.

It was hard to imagine, but somehow, we were there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day looking at universities and programs. I was looking for a creative writing program, but on a Saturday morning when I was still half asleep, I wasn’t looking very hard. My mom practically had to drag me through the fair, hissing at me to wake up at certain points.

The whole trip was a bit of a blur; in many cases information had to be given quickly as there were a lot of other teens and parents that the guides and representatives had to talk to.

Let’s compare the two options: online vs. a visit to a post-secondary school fair. Searching online is definitely more convenient, but it lacks the personal touch of dealing with university representatives in person.

With that being said, by hitting the request information button on school profiles on SchoolFinder.com, you can receive personalized information from schools directly to your email inbox.

I found that at the fair, by talking to the right representative, you could find out all you needed to know in a matter of minutes, whereas online, you can spend hours looking for information specific to you. However, the fair was overcrowded and in some cases chaotic.

At the fair, I was able to meet one of the professors who taught a course I was interested in. She gave me an in-depth overview of the program and I also got a feel for what the profs were like at the university.

To summarize, both fairs and online searches have their merits. If it’s convenient to visit a fair I would recommend a visit as well as spending time doing online research. Spending time online will give you the opportunity to identify where your interests are, and narrow down your search before you attend a fair. Regardless of how you choose to look for schools, it’s always important to follow up with a school visit to your top choices!