The Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) is coming up next weekend (Sept 19-21), and the admissions staff have been busy preparing. There are travel and hotel arrangements, training of volunteers, and all sorts of other things to do. The OUF is held in the Toronto Convention Centre, and all Ontario universities have people there to meet with prospective students, parents, etc. There is a website with more information.
It’s a very busy weekend, answering questions from thousands of people. I’m always impressed and thankful for the dozens of Waterloo faculty and current students who volunteer part or all of their weekend to attend and meet visitors. In the past I’ve been told by parents that some universities have few or no faculty available at the OUF, which is unfortunate. We always try to have at least one faculty member from each Engineering program available, because they can discuss details about the curriculum, co-op work experience, and careers in those fields. And our students are very enthusiastic about sharing their academic and co-op work experiences. They are also obviously the experts in student-life information and advice too.
Visitors to the OUF will get the most out of it if they do a bit of homework before coming. The OUF website has some questions that can be asked. Some of them are a bit lame (e.g. “can I visit your website for more information”? Who needs permission to visit a website?). Others, you could answer yourself with a quick search on Google without travelling to downtown Toronto. When we’re at the OUF it’s quickly clear who has done some homework and prepared some useful questions, but either way it’s OK. It’s a good place to get some information.
If you’re interested in an engineering program with co-op or internship experience, I would suggest a few other questions to get a clear picture of the extent and quality of the program. Such as:
- What fraction (or how many) students graduate with the co-op designation? (or, what fraction of students complete an internship?).
- How many employers routinely hire from your university?
- What geographic locations are commonly possible for co-op (or internship) experience?
- What role does the university play in matching students with employers?
- What sort of support does the university provide to students when they out working with the employer?
- How is the work experience integrated with the academic program?
These are questions that many prospective students and parents don’t even know they should ask, but can actually be quite important when making an informed decision and comparing universities.
For those that can’t make it to the OUF, or want to see Waterloo in more detail we have our Fall Open House on November 1. I’ll likely be at both events, so maybe I’ll see you there.