By Larissa Ham
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Whether you’re a student pondering life beyond high school, or a university graduate looking to do further study, the decision about which course to do at which institution can seem overwhelming.
This month universities across Victoria are throwing open their doors to prospective students, giving them the chance to explore first-hand courses, facilities, student clubs and more.
Campus tours offer the chance to see all the highlights of a university, which you wouldn’t get the opportunity to see as a casual visitor. Open days also offer information sessions about support services, fees, careers, accommodation, scholarships and other financial assistance.
Here, experts and students answer everything you need to know to get the most out of open days.
When should I start going to Uni open days?
“It’s never too early,” says Roula Karakostas, director, future students at Deakin University. “You certainly shouldn’t be waiting until you get to year 12 to get great value. Ideally, I’d be saying years 9, 10, 11 and 12 students.”
Karakostas says open days are a practical way for students to discover what universities have to offer, and the study areas that may interest them. “There are many activities and demonstrations available on campus, lots of information sessions, et cetera. So, it’s a good way to start exploring what you’re passionate about.”
How many open days should I go to?
Professor Kylie Readman, deputy vice-chancellor (education and students) at the University of Technology Sydney, suggests students should go to as many open days as they can, which is why it’s good to start early.
“It’s important to keep your options open and explore a few universities, so you can find the one that’s the best fit for you,” she says. “And you’re looking at a few things. So, the course that you want to study – which is obviously the main consideration – the type of experience you’re after, and the support that the university provides in terms of what’s going to suit you.”
Should parents go along?
Definitely, Readman says. “If you are comparing your experience with your parents’ experience, things have changed a lot,” she says.
“And if you’re the first one in your family to come to university, I think that’s a really important thing to think about as well, because you’re educating yourself but also your family’s being educated, potentially. What’s it all about? What is the commitment … all of those things.”
Readman says taking along a parent to open day, or even an older sibling or friend, can be incredibly helpful.
“Even though you’ve got guidance officers and teachers at school, it’s the conversations that happen in homes that really help people shape what the opportunities are,” she says.
Do I need to do any preparation?
Start by jumping on to the university’s open day website, or reading the program. Many universities will let you filter your search by study areas, experiences, tours and so on. You can also prepare questions you want to ask teaching staff or students, including queries around entry requirements or student life.
Readman suggests giving yourself plenty of time to find the events and activities on the day, and keeping an open mind.
Finally, she says choosing a uni course is important, but it’s not “a do-or-die decision”.
“There are lots of different ways into university, lots of opportunities to change your mind, lots of flexibility. Our goal is that students will have the learning experience that they need for what they imagine their future to be.“
FIVE STUDENTS ON WHAT THEY WISH THEY’D ASKED AT OPEN DAY
Taarish Kadam from Melbourne University, Daisy Rose Sipiti of Victoria University and Celene Meraz Benavente, who attends Federation University Australia.Credit: Nine
How can I get more involved?
If I could go back to open day, I would probably ask more about the uni community and how to get involved with clubs and societies, especially those relating to my course.
Tarish Kadam, Bachelor of Science, Melbourne University
What does a unit count for in a double degree?
I should have asked if a uni counts towards both degrees in a double degree. After completing some maths units, I found it did. So I would finish both degrees in four years – quicker than I had thought.
Mackenzie Yandell, Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Science, Monash University
What clubs are there?
I wish I had asked about the extracurricular activities you could join on campus. I only learnt about clubs like the RMIT Law Student’s Society once I began my degree and regret not asking sooner – it’s been an experience of a lifetime.
Kayla De Silva, B. Law, RMIT
How can I succeed at university?
I didn’t realise until a few months into my university degree that Victoria University had implemented numerous support services that were readily available and didn’t cost a thing. These services played a crucial role in helping me succeed.
Daisy Rose Sipiti, Bachelor of Business, Victoria University
Are there research opportunities?
I wanted to know whether there was an opportunity for involvement in research projects or assisting faculty with ongoing research within the physiotherapy department.
Celene Meraz Benavente, Bachelor Physiotherapy, Federation University Australia
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