Open Days 2018: How Should You Approach Them?By ATAR Notes in HSC
6th of August 2018
Some open days for 2018 have already been and gone, but there are still many to come! You can find an easy list of them for both Victoria and New South Wales here.
Based on open days you’ve been to previously, though, or based on the fact that you haven’t been to any before, a few questions may have arisen for you.
Why are open days useful?
Open days give you an opportunity to sort of “try before you buy” with different institutions. Indeed, the whole point is to give you a taste of what uni might be like for you in the future.
Not on a “this is literally what university will be like” sort of level, because open days are pretty artificial: there are heaps of people, activities, information coming from all angles and so on. But they’re useful insofar as open days give you a general feel of how unis different operate. You can go along, listen to some information sessions for degrees you might be interested in (more on this in a moment), talk to some current students (very valuable), and see some pretty nifty stuff.
In essence, they can help you decide your future. That’s not us being hyperbolic; they actually can have a very considerable impact on your university preferences come the end of Year 12.
Can you just wing it?
Sure, you could just put all of this off until the end of Year 12, then panic, slap yourself on the wrist for being silly, and try to wing your preferences. But the things is, doing that means you’re listing preferences with, presumably, limited information informing those preferences. Very risky.
One story for me comes to mind immediately. This student went through high school without attending a single open day – and they wouldn’t be the only one. They didn’t know what they wanted to do, put in their preferences, and then realised literally in their first class that their degree just wasn’t for them.
Situations like this aren’t uncommon, and it’s understandable; you simply can’t know for sure if you’re going to like a degree or not until you, y’know, do it. And transferring certainly isn’t the end of the world. But a lot of situations like this could have been pretty easily avoided through a little bit of planning and research and open days.
What should you be doing at open days?
Here are some things you should consider.
Talk to current students
This is perhaps the most useful thing of all. Who better to answer your questions than students who were in your same position not too long ago?
Current students have the advantage of knowing what you’re going through, and being aware of how difficult it can be to choose a degree, to choose an institution, and to choose a life pathway. They get it. 👌 And they’ll be able to answer heaps of questions for you, like workload, social dynamics, and what the content is like. Very useful indeed.
Talk to academic staff
Of course, academic staff are also there to help, and they want to help! You’ll probably find that lecturers and the like are very passionate in their fields, and they’ll be keen to chat to you about potential pathways, where certain degrees can take you, and recommendations for you going forward.
For me, this also helped insofar as getting an insight into what teaching staff are like from institution to institution.
Check out the facilities
Big one! Are the facilities modern? Up to scratch? Are there sufficient cafes? 😉 Take some time simply to walk around and take it all in. See if you can imagine yourself in the lecture theatres and in the labs.
And this includes the physical location, too: test out the commute you could potentially be taking five days per week at uni. If you need to take six trains, a monorail, a short boat ride and a 7km run to get to the campus, perhaps it’s worth looking elsewhere.
Vibe should not be underrated!
Different unis, like all institutions, have certain intangible vibes. If you walk onto a campus and immediately feel at home, or if you immediately feel uneasy, these things shouldn’t be ignored entirely. In the words of the great Dennis Denuto: