Hundreds of eager students crowded outside Enercare Centre’s Exhibition Hall B on the evening of 23 October 2018, waiting for the doors to open. Inside, representatives from various colleges and student aid organizations were setting up for the fifth annual Ontario College Information Fair (OCIF), which was held that day from 5 pm to 9 pm, as well as the next day from 9 am to 2 pm. The event required no admission fee and was open to anyone interested in attending.

OCIF aims to help students understand and explore their post-secondary options in Ontario. All twenty-four public Ontario colleges had designated areas in the hall, each with numerous representatives eager to share information. Speakers from each college also distributed booklets detailing their offered programs. Attendees were encouraged to reach out and discover new opportunities by speaking to the professors, recruitment advisors, current students, and alumni of the various schools.

A student talks with a college representative. Image: Justin Ye

Each college offered a wide range of programs and unique specialties. One example that stood out was Collège Boréal, one of six colleges affiliated with StudyNorth, a partnership of Northern Ontario colleges that aim to add to students’ college experiences and offer extra options for their education. Collège Boréal, being one of only two French immersion colleges in Ontario, gave attendees notable options. “When you study French, you have a better chance on the job market, as it is very competitive,“ said Kevin, a representative from the college. Another StudyNorth college, Sault College, stood out through its aviation and outdoors-oriented programs. Tanya Running, a Sault College representative, emphasized the unique nature of the programs, saying, “We have an outdoor lab right across the street. Our students do around two hundred field trips per semester, so they are outdoors quite often. We have a fleet of airplanes that we train our pilots on.”  

Humber College had a booth at the fair. Image: Justin Ye

Also among the exhibits were bursary and grant program booths, general college information booths, and educational travelling program booths. Several presentations were scheduled in secluded rooms to help students familiarize themselves with the college application process. This included sessions for individual colleges, the application process, credit transfers, and more. Donna, a representative StudyNorth, said she thought the fair was a “great opportunity for all the students to be able to see all the great colleges in Ontario in one location. It’s a great opportunity to speak to faculty, staff and recruitment.”

To many, the event was highly beneficial, not only for high school students, but also for parents wanting to familiarize themselves with the education options in Ontario. “I know so much more about my program, how to apply to it, and what I’m going to be doing each semester. It’s like now I know everything.” said Mikayla, a high school senior who attended the fair. Parents and students alike left the event satisfied with new found information and a better sense of their future.