It seems like forever ago when, in September 2008, I started my final year of high school and suddenly felt like I had to figure out the rest of my life right then and there; luckily I soon realized that this was not the case for my journey in choosing a university after grade 12 graduation.
There were many factors that played into choosing a post-secondary education, and like many students I was not sure what I wanted to do with my adult life or where I wanted to pursue the education to make this happen. Personally, I had schools contacting me from an earlier age because I am an athlete. Before coming to UOIT and playing on the varsity hockey team (the Ridgebacks) for five years, I was looking to pursue hockey further than just my club team as a 17-year-old. Schools would have their coaches contact me on a literally weekly basis discussing hockey, hockey and more hockey. I had decided to attend one of the larger schools in Ontario and committed to them and their varsity hockey program pretty early on. I had my mind set that there was nowhere else I wanted to go; their coach was very optimistic about my experience as a hockey player.
Suddenly, one day toward the end of my junior hockey career, a representative from UOIT actually physically showed up to one of my hockey games and asked to speak to me personally. I had gone through a rough time at home and was pondering if I wanted to go to university at all at this point – after I had already paid my non-refundable residence fee. The thing that intrigued me about this UOIT rep was that, yes, they wanted me to play hockey, but that was not what we discussed the most. This person wanted to know my goals and aspirations for my field of study and subsequently what I wanted to do after university. This took me off guard because the other schools I had spoken to really only seemed to care about what I had to offer on the ice and not so much in the classroom. After speaking for a while about all my options with UOIT, I knew that financially and academically I felt more comfortable here than the school I had already committed to. I was still wondering if I should stay with my original choice, so all that was left for me was to visit UOIT, which I did. I had never even visited my original choice of school and had just decided everything through phone calls and information from the hockey coach.
Sold! The visit to the new, small, welcoming and vibrant campus made my choice easy. Not to mention the brand new state-of-the-art athletic facilities which, for me, were very important as I would be spending a ton of time there with my hockey career. Visiting the school was, in my opinion, the most important thing I did before choosing where to study. I encourage every single student to do this before making the decision on where they want to go.
Bottom line: having a school that cared about my academic success was what UOIT offered in the best capacity. They care about their student’s success in every single way. I knew coming here that I would never be just a number and I would always be a priority. That never changed and I had a successful run as both a student and athlete, making connections in both cases that have brought me to where I am today; working a successful job right out of university. I would not change my experience as a student athlete at UOIT for anything.