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About eINFO

The Evolution of eINFO

In 1970, Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister, bell-bottoms and disco were in fashion, and the number of full-time students enrolled in undergraduate studies in Ontario was around 106,000. It was in this time and social context, almost 40 years ago, that INFO magazine was born.

Today, the context is much different: in 2008, over 320,000 students were enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies.

The Evolution of INFO Magazine
INFO began as "Counsellor Guidelines", a newsletter-like document that provided a central, non-partisan compilation of Ontario university entrance requirements. It was renamed INFO in 1973, yet it remained primarily a resource for school counsellors. A different university volunteered each year to produce and distribute the magazine.

In the early 1990s, at the request of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and the Ontario Universities Registrars' Association (OURA), the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC) agreed to help produce and distribute INFO. By 1992-93, the content and features contained in the magazine had expanded and the OUAC implemented a new policy of providing copies of the magazine to every graduating secondary school student. At the same time, an INFO Editorial Board (IEB) was formed in order to guide the development of the magazine and to determine its content. The IEB contains representatives from all the parties that are served by INFO magazine, including the Ontario School Counsellors' Association (OSCA), the Ontario Universities' Council on Admissions (OUCA), the General Committee on Secondary School Liaison (GCSSL), the COU, OURA and the OUAC.

In 1999, the OUAC assumed full responsibility for producing INFO magazine and, by working more closely with the IEB, took on the coordination and editing work that was previously undertaken by university volunteers. This change created a more centralized and efficient system of gathering information for publication that continues today. While INFO content and format is decided by the IEB, the OUAC compiles the information from Ontario universities and provides a unified editorial voice that aims to highlight all Ontario universities equally.

INFO magazine has evolved over these years, undergone many changes and forms, and today, in its online format, it remains a trusted source of information for students applying to university in Ontario.

The Next Step: eINFO

In February 2002, OURA mandated that INFO magazine become primarily electronic by 2008. In response, the IEB established a year-long commission to examine the migration from a hardcopy INFO to an online version.

The IEB commission indicated that an online INFO would be beneficial for a number of reasons: first, it would allow students of any age and grade level to access the resource, a goal that would be impossible for the printed magazine. Second, it would allow for more accurate information to be collected from the universities, as many departments would be able to access the site to view and update their information on a regular basis. Often, a printed document is out-of-date by the time it is published; an online resource could be continually up-to-date. Third, an online INFO would present the possibility of integrating its information with the information in the OUAC online application system, allowing students, teachers and parents to access consistent information from the beginning to the end of the research and application process.

An eINFO project plan was created shortly thereafter to guide the development of the eINFO site. Throughout the course of the four-year plan, the IEB, through the OUAC, engaged in extensive consultation with secondary school students and counsellors, in the form of surveys and focus groups. The feedback received through these consultations directly influenced the design and function of eINFO. eINFO first went "live" in December 2005, and a new version was launched in September 2006 with additional search tools and updates. These first two versions of eINFO provided a platform for testing the site and fine-tuning its functions.

For the fall of 2007, eINFO was completely redesigned in both appearance and function, and has evolved to become a powerful web resource that makes finding and comparing university information easier and faster. The new eINFO interface includes tools to make searching easier and more customizeable. Users can save searches; compare programs at different universities; customize and print charts of data; search for financial aid using highly specific criteria; and easily find additional, helpful information about programs and universities.

eINFO provides a user-friendly, continually updated website that can far exceed the accuracy and effectiveness of the paper version, thereby giving students better tools to make the most informed decisions about their postsecondary education.

A companion eINFO newsletter is distributed to graduating secondary school students in Ontario, as a guide to the eINFO site and the search process. The newsletter directs students, parents and counsellors to important resources and updates available on the eINFO site, and it outlines some of the essential questions that students should consider as they browse eINFO in preparation for applying to university. Students and counsellors may use the newsletter as a starting point in the search process.

eINFO and Other Information Sources
eINFO provides comparative information about university prerequisites, enrolment numbers, residence information and course codes. This information allows students to begin the process of determining which university and program best fits their needs. The information on eINFO, however, is not the "last word" on university admissions - it should certainly be supplemented with further research and data. One valuable source of additional information is Common University Data Ontario (CUDO). CUDO provides detailed information about Ontario universities such as fees, number of teaching faculty, class size, activities offered on campus, and graduation and employment rates by program. Using eINFO and CUDO, together with information from the University Information Program, the Ontario Universities' Fair and the universities' own publications and websites, is an effective way for students, parents and teachers to research Ontario universities and programs. Prospective students are also advised to take advantage of university campus tours and special visit days; information about these important opportunities appears on eINFO and in university publications and websites.

Once all the research is complete, the next step is to apply online, using the OUAC's online application system, available through www.ouac.on.ca/ouac-101/. The 101 application system allows students to browse and apply to specific programs and to select subjects of major interest. Once applications are submitted, the "Review and Change Your Completed Application" function allows students to further revise their application and to respond to the universities' offers of admission.

The Future of eINFO
As much as INFO has evolved over the last 40 years, from a counsellor's newsletter to a student's handbook, it has the potential to develop further in its online format. As university programs change, and as the needs of students, parents and counsellors change, eINFO will be able to adapt to better serve the needs of its users. The IEB will continue to engage in surveys and focus groups in order to improve the function and design of eINFO and to include the information that is most valuable to students, creating a seamless transition to postsecondary studies in Ontario.