Four things you need to know about a College Open House
If you’re in the process of choosing which college to attend, you’ve probably researched your program entirely online, or sought the advice of a guidance councillor. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s more you need to be aware of. As good as a program is, you need to see the campus where you would be taking your courses, which is why Open Houses exist. Centennial College opens the doors at its four campuses to potential students during Connect with Centennial on March 22 at 1 pm. Here’s why you should be going, and what you should look for.
The location is important
Even if a program seems to perfectly suit your needs, you still need to be aware of where you’re taking classes for the sake of your personal well-being. We’re all different people, and you’re probably going to be spending, on average, a couple of years at the campus location you choose to attend. You need to make sure it suits you personally. The facilities, the culture, even the neighbourhood (where will you go for lunch?) are all things you need to think about. There are also the people that will surround you, and the instructors who will be teaching you. Things will be a lot easier if you like it all.
Don’t be afraid to arrive early, or even escape the tour to do some exploring of the campus. Find some regular students to talk to, inspect the nooks, crannies and hangout spaces of the campus, so you can really get a feel for the space. And while you’re there, explore the neighbourhood around the school to see what resources you can make use of.
Learn about both the campus and the specific program
There are some other specific things you can spend time looking for while you’re visiting a campus aside from the culture and locale. One immediately useful thing is to locate all the free and special services that are available to you as a student. The gym, the spa, the library and even unusual things like business clothing and legal advice are there for your use. I've written about some of these lesser-known services at Centennial on the blog before, as well. So many of these go unused, and an orientation is the perfect time to discover them.
On top of that, you’ll have time during open house to break off and find some info about your specific program. It’s a perfect opportunity to meet both students and teachers you’ll be spending time with.
Ask the right questions
One of the purposes of an Open House is for you you can compare and contrast your schools, or secure your decision to attend ours. It’s up to us to impress you, and it’s time to find the details, as About.com recommends. They offer a list of questions, but here’s the highlights:
Find your potential instructors and ask:
- What’s your average class size?
- What type of academic support is offered if my grades are slipping?
- What will your availability outside class be?
- What’s the most difficult thing in the program?
- How will you be handling internships and placements?
Then, find some students and ask:
- Are you on residence, or do you commute?
- How’s the commute, if you do?
- If you live on residence, what did you do for fun last weekend, and how often do you go home?
- Why did you pick this school?
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
- What was the most difficult thing to get used to here?
- Where do you study?
Also, you can win some stuff
A smaller, but equally positive aspect of Open Houses: There are always giveaways. At the very least, there’s going to be free branded swag you can use. I once walked away from an open house with a new iPod. This year at Centennial College, it’s even possible to win $2,000 off your tuition, one of the best prizes a student can win. It’s just another reason to go, if you aren’t already convinced.
By Anthony Geremia