Getting them young

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By Rita Poliakov

The low hum of excited students filled the air of the Metro Convention Centre last Friday at the Ontario Universities’ Fair. High school students swarmed the area laughing with friends, yelling at parents or walking cautiously past the maze of booths.

No matter how cautious or nervous the students were, they always seemed to end up at Ryerson’s booth — probably because of its size.

The 60-metre long booth that held Ryerson’s gleaming white on blue logo was one of the biggest at the fair, located right near the front door.

Professors sat side by side, lined neatly according to program. The hall was filled with the complimentary Ryerson bags being handed out.

“Ryerson has always been dwarfed,” said Bryan Sutherland, the university’s student ambassador at the fair.

“Ryerson’s presence in the city has grown drastically. (With this booth,) it can flex its visual muscles,” he added.

Ryerson stepped up at the fair, throwing rival GTA schools York University and the University of Toronto, into the shadows.

“Ryerson’s booth has always been one of the biggest booths,” said Registrar Keith Alnwick at the event. “(Ryerson) is a work in progress.”

President Sheldon Levy was proud of the booth and the faculty turnout. More than 300 volunteers ran Ryerson’s booth, greeting students and parents, answering questions and pitching the school.

“We have more faculty there, by far, than anyone else. It’s amazing,” Levy said. “It was a great event and we did it very well.”

Ryerson’s booth represented its continual growth. This year, various programs are being expanded. Arts and contemporary studies has added an english major, philosophy, french and history programs are also new for the 2006-2007 school year.

“We assume that all universities can notice us,” Alnwick said.

“Programs are the number one factor (at this fair.) Our programs are hands-on and professional; we are the envy of many universities.”

Students who were drawn to Ryerson had mixed opinions of how influential the booth was.

“The booth was relatively nice, but it comes down to the quality of the programs that they offer,” said Monica Yu, a Grade 12 student at Glenforest Secondary School in Mississauga.

Other students seemed to feel that size, rather than quality, drew them in.

“Yeah, Ryerson’s booth was definitely the biggest one,” said Peter Son, a student from Pickering College. “The only other booths I went to were York and Guelph’s booths, which were small and crowded. Ryerson had better organization. It was very effective.”

For Alnwick, the packaging and marketing is working. As Ryerson expands in students, programs and size, the onus falls on administration to get the word out.

“This past fall, around 30,000 students applied. That’s a big number,” Alnwick said.

“There’s an awareness of Ryerson. The entire community should be proud.”

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