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University Open Days – road maps to the future

26 Jun 2017

In the search for study futures for my children, we went to Open Days at various universities from the time my children hit high school. So with four children, three to five years of visits for each, even allowing for sibling overlaps, the frequent flyer number adds up.

‘But,’ I hear you say, ‘can’t you get all the information on-line?  Are Open Days really worth going to?’

They absolutely are. Spending a day ‘shopping’ for a university education is a great investment in your student and will provide a map for one of the most important decisions they will make.

Here are some Open Day tips from a four child veteran.

Plan your day. You and your prospective university student probably have a few study areas in mind, so plan ahead, check the program and see if there is a specific talk, tour or meet and greet which you can catch, and be there for that.

Ask questions. Get answers. Take a list of questions to ask a real live person. The helpers on Open Day will be able to answer your queries, or know someone who can.

Take a tour. Even if you know your way around the campus, tours can take you behind the scenes and give you a chance to ask MORE questions. With Child#1 we toured the (then) new science labs and she asked about the types of microscopes and someone explained these (in great detail). She was hooked, I was happy.

Be Flexible. If you have a teenager who has wanted to be a psephologist since they were two, then chances are they will not change their mind, especially as it is such a cool name. But for everyone else, they might need to look at a road map to check what could lie ahead and university Open Days are fabulous for finding a path. I had one child who did an about turn on their career plans as a result of an Open Day visit. Clearly, they hadn’t had their heart set on being a psephologist since they were two.

Ask lots of questions. Ok. I know I have said this before, but Open Day really is the place to ask lots of questions. For instance, Child#1 (microscope child) wanted a specific science course, which was not offered at USC at that time. We had a chat with the science department representative on Open Day. We left our details, then halfway through her gap year, we got a phone call, the course was on, so she studied at USC and then went on to complete her honours there.

Another year, another Open Day, Child#2 wanted a specific course, which was not offered at that time. Again, we left our details, halfway through her gap year, a phone call, USC offered the course and she completed her study there.

Another year, another Open Day, Child#3 wanted to study law, but it wasn’t offered at USC at that time. Gap year, phone call, yep, you guessed it, law is on offer. He’s in and thriving.

We visited again with Child#4, and even though we had been to several USC Open Days, it was still really worthwhile. Child#4 was able to talk with lecturers and students and plan out his course and subjects.

What about you? Open Days might lead to a course of study for parents as well. Be open minded about what the university might have to offer you, it is called an Open Day after all. I first met my doctoral supervisor at an USC Open Day.

If you have a ‘soon to be uni-student’, or maybe are curious for yourself, make sure you visit the next USC Open Day on July 8 at USC Fraser Coast and July 23 at USC Sunshine Coast. I hope to be there chatting on one of the panels.

The journey of a thousand steps can start with one university Open Day...and a really good map.

Dr Janet Lee

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