For senior high school students, fall is a busy time.
Between figuring out courses and schedules, signing up for extra-curricular activities, doing homework, playing sports or music, volunteering or working, plus studying for exams and applying for admission and scholarships, there’s not a lot of time to think about post-secondary representative visits to your school.
But the fall is precisely when the universities and colleges visit high schools in Canada, so it pays to have a bit of a plan when they arrive at your school.
For several years I recruited for a mid-sized Canadian university. During that time I was asked thousands of questions. I usually had a line-up of people and could therefore only devote a few minutes to each person’s question.
Some students/parents got more out of their limited time with me because they had done a little research and came prepared with specific questions.
Here are 3 tips on how to get the most out of a visit from post-secondary representatives:
1. Do your research. Before the visits start, have your student do some online research and try to come up with a few universities and programs they are interested in.
This doesn’t mean they need to stick with them forever, or that they can’t look at other schools/programs, but as a starting point they should at least get a general idea of the schools and programs they want to investigate further. Then, at the fair or lunch-time visit, use the few minutes of one-on-one time with the rep to ask for specific information.
For example, your student could ask a question like, “What makes your Business program different from other universities?” In other words, try not to waste time asking for general information that you can easily find yourself on the university's website. Ask about stuff that's not on the website.
2. Ask what makes you different. Along the same lines as the #1 tip, try to find out what makes the university academically and/or socially unique.
For example, lots of universities offer a Bachelor of Science degree, so what makes for a unique (and better) experience at that particular university?
Is it that there are many co-op opportunities, or is the quality of faculty better, or is it the opportunity for summer jobs doing research with faculty? And what makes it special socially and as a community? Is it the unique campus traditions, the multitude of student support services or the extensive alumni network?
The rep should also explain why these unique features are important and what benefits they offer students.
3. Parents can participate too. Parents should find out the recruitment schedule for your student’s school (the guidance office website usually has a calendar of events).
Make sure your student doesn’t miss the rep visits from the universities he/she is considering. And if there is a parent information night at your student’s high school, or one hosted by a university your student is interested in, attend it if you can.
These parent-focused events are a great way for you to get YOUR questions answered and to find out more in depth information about the community where your child might spend the next 4 years of his or her life.
Finally, get the university rep’s business card and keep it for later when you have further questions. Make those reps work for their wages! In my experience most reps love what they do—I certainly did!—so don’t hesitate to contact them when necessary. You'll thank yourself later when you have questions and can contact someone directly rather than searching the website for hours looking for information.
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