In the ever-evolving world of higher education, we all face the challenge of how to balance short-term growth with long-term brand sustainability. While some strategies may lead to immediate results, it’s also important to consider the lasting power of branding, relationships and visibility. 

At the SchoolFinder group, we aim to help our clients generate student leads and build their brand through digital marketing on our three sites (,, and, as well as through in-person and virtual events.  

We focus on results, and believe in making data-driven decisions. One of the ways we do so is by tracking the annual application statistics released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC). Overall, Ontario university applications have been on a growth trend, but this hasn’t been the case for every university. Most schools see fluctuations in growth from year to year. However, looking at the 5-year average growth of universities in Ontario, we’re pleased to see that 7 of the top 10 schools have been using our digital platform to build their brand and generate leads during this period.  

School 5-Year Application Average 
Western University – Huron 8.7% 
Ontario Tech University 8.5% 
University of Guelph 7.7% 
Queen’s University 7.1% 
Wilfrid Laurier University 6.1% 
Western University 6.0% 
University of Waterloo 5.6% 
York University 4.6% 
McMaster University 4.2% 
University of Ottawa 3.1% 
University of Toronto 2.8% 
Brock University 2.7% 
Western University – Brescia 2.6% 
Trent University 1.9% 
University of Windsor 1.8% 
Algoma University 1.8% 
Western University – King’s 1.3% 
Carleton University 1.0% 
Laurentian University-Hearst 0.3% 
Lakehead University -0.5% 
Toronto Metropolitan University -0.9% 
Nipissing University -1.3% 
OCAD University -2.1% 
University of Guelph-Humber -2.9% 
Laurentian University -7.6% 
Université de l’Ontario Français N/A 
TOTAL 3.6% 

Of course, there are many factors that impact application numbers each year, and just being on our platform is not going to guarantee immediate success. Still, there is a pattern amongst these top schools of consistent activity on the platform. From employing drip email campaigns, to featuring their school, programs, and scholarships on the sites, to posting events and articles, these brands have a high degree of visibility with prospective students. We also see that these schools continue to build their relationships with prospective students by effectively responding to their leads — 3 of the schools ranked in the top 5 in our most recent Secret Shopper program

In our 2024 prospective student communication survey, we learned that 65% of students this year are considering between 2-5 schools, so it’s important to stand out from the competition. Long-term branding efforts not only attract initial interest but also build loyalty and trust, ultimately influencing the decision-making process of prospective students. 

At the SchoolFinder Group, we remain committed to helping our clients navigate these challenges and achieve their recruitment goals through innovative digital marketing solutions.

To get started on the platform or to learn more about how we can help you, email us at  

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