Recruitment season kicks off at the Ontario Universities’ Fair

More than 131,000 prospective students, their families and friends attended the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) this fall – and York was in the thick of it.

Lineups were held at the door and the space was at capacity. At times one had to yell to be heard over the din. The Ontario Universities’ Fair, which took place Sept. 24 to 26 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is the largest of its kind and this year’s attendance set a new record.

Hundreds of staff, students, alumni and faculty worked the York University booth and presentation room for the three full days and distributed more than 56,000 York publications, including the 2011-2012 York undergraduate admissions handbook.

Right: Staff and volunteers answered questions for three full days during the Ontario Universities’ Fair

“York stood out in the vast Convention Centre. The University’s polished contemporary look was a red and white beacon among the 21 participating Ontario universities at the fair,” said Ken Withers, director of recruitment & applicant relations.

The Office of Admissions and each of the nine Faculties were represented with backlit signs featuring the current viewbook covers, providing visitors with clear direction to explore their programs of choice.

The energetic volunteers answered a multitude of questions about York programs, scholarships and campus life. They also provided direction to those students unsure about how to investigate and evaluate postsecondary institutions.

Right: Professors who volunteered their time at the crowded fair found they had a captive audience

The connections made during OUF with future students and parents form the foundation of a progressive engagement process that includes welcoming students for daily campus tours, high-school visits, information fairs and chats. It also sets the stage for a keystone on-campus recruitment event, Fall Campus Day, taking place Nov. 13 at Keele and Nov. 14 at Glendon. Booth visitors received a magnetic bookmark promoting Fall Campus Day and reminding them how to connect with York online.

York continued its “txt4tuition” campaign following its successful launch during last year’s OUF. Students were encouraged to text York using their cellphone for an opportunity to win their first year’s tuition at York as well as keep up to date with York news and events. Future students could also enter on the spot at one of York’s laptop stations or put pencil to paper and fill out a reply card. The contest runs until the end of December.


Left: Attendees entered the “txt4tuition” contest on the spot at York laptop stations


All contacts gathered at OUF will be added to a growing customer relationship management database to ensure that prospective students are aware of upcoming recruitment activities and events. They and their families have already been sent an e-mail introducing the new My Future portal, the new personal point of contact with the University.

One floor above the convention floor, visitors were welcomed by student volunteers at the entrance of the York presentation room. York not only offered a highly energetic and interactive 30-minute presentation, but for the first time had onsite displays. While the presentation highlighted student engagement and York’s commitment to excellence, participants were able to speak one-on-one with representatives from the Career Centre and discover York’s work and student opportunities in the Las Nubes Rainforest, a 124-hectare reserve that is part of the largest remaining pristine rainforest ecosystem in Central America.


Right: Student volunteers welcomed visitors at the booth and in the presentation room


Although the Ontario Universities’ Fair is well attended by Ontario high-school students, a growing number of International students and guidance counsellors also visit the fair. York was prepared with a fully-stocked, behind-the-scenes resource area, providing international students all relevant publications for international admission. Guidance counsellors received a gift bag of York’s publications and promotions to share with their students and colleagues. An increasing number of parents attended the fair and this year came away with a full list of resources including York’s What to Expect parent bookmarks.

Building on York’s success at the OUF, the Office of Admissions is on the road developing relationships with prospective students, engaging with the community and promoting upcoming events, campus tours, online chats, the popular Saturdays @ York program, the Fall Campus Day and the Spring Gala.

“Student recruitment officers continue to reinforce the fact that York is the university of choice, visiting schools on a daily basis and reaching out to prospects on the YU blog,” said Withers. “E-ambassadors also connect online via Facebook and Twitter, promoting events, answering questions and developing our online community.”

To learn more about recruitment events visit the events page on the Future Students website.