Road Stories

Hungry teens choose between lunch and a university recruiter. Guess who wins.

I’m working on a – long overdue – breakdown of the madness of Student Life Expo in Toronto. Had an interesting day though, and thought I’d post some quick stories. Enjoy.

My final school visit today was a strange one…

Typically, university visits are well-publicized affairs. High schools put up posters, sign students up, and there’s a small group waiting when I arrive. We have a good conversation, I leave, and repeat at the school down the road. Today however, things were a bit different. At this school, I was sent to hawk my wares in front of the cafeteria at lunch hour. I’m not sure how many of you remember the high school cafeteria, so let me refresh your memory:

Hundreds of hungry teens invade over the course of 10 minutes at the beginning of lunch hour. They camp out there for the next hour, before reversing the process on the way to their afternoon class. Needless to say, it was not the most productive experience I’ve had. In their single-minded quest for food, students weren’t exacty thinking about a small liberal arts university in Quebec. My notes from this visit will recommend that we hand out hot dogs next time, since that’s probably the only way we’ll get anyone’s attention with this format. A strange set-up, and certainly not the best way to facilitate interaction.

One of the more memorable moments so far is from one of my visits to an independent school in Toronto. I was sitting down with a small group having a great conversation, when the guidance counsellor spoke up:

‘What about the parties?’ he asked.

I was surprised by this, since most students are too shy to broach that topic. Then, he qualified his question, speaking to the group.

“Remember guys, classroom education is only part of the university experience. The social aspect is really important, and you shouldn’t lose sight of that.”

I was blown away. It’s nice to have a frank conversation with students, and this broke down the last set of walls with these students. Allowed to discuss social life, I talked about parties with open invites, great nights at the Lion, and seeing professors at wing night. For students looking for that type of experience, it was perfect. For others, they’ll look elsewhere. But at least now they know.

My challenge to those of you choosing universities? Ask the questions you really want the answers to, no matter how unorthodox. Be brave, and you may actually end up at the school that best suits your needs.