Reiterating what I wrote in my last post, the summer this year has been one of the most lacklustre summers I have ever had mixed with dissertation fever, unpredictable weather, lot of sports action (only caught on the idiot box…sulking….of course) and days of uncertainties when literally nothing progressed as far as the masters project is concerned and one was left wondering if the deadline for the dissertation would ever be met or not. As September commenced and the due date for submission of dissertation drew near, these feelings of apprehension had taken a full circle and I realised that the days of agony were numbered and very soon I would be liberated from this vicious circle of experiments, tests, analysis and proof-reading my thesis.
I needed a break desperately from this bizarre routine and it came in the form of University Open Days. Some students of the University received a mail asking if we wanted to work as student ambassadors during the University Open Days. For me, it was nothing but a boon as I was looking forward to a change from monotony and moreover, it was time to do something for my alma mater.
The University Open Days were conducted over two days on 4 and 5 September. There was an anticipated turnout of around 10,000 people every day and the event was totally packed, to say the least. It was really awesome to meet the prospective students, excited and apprehensive at the same time, looking forward to a fulfilling three years ahead.
We were aptly briefed about our specific roles during the event by the Outreach and Admissions team. A vote of thanks was also given by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) for our enthusiasm and support. There were a number of roles assigned to the Student ambassadors like campus tours, tours of halls of residence, Welcome and reception desks at various points in the campus, Student’s Union, transport co-ordination, accommodation talks and various subject talks. I was assigned the role of student helper during Fees and Finance talks and also at the Welcome desk.
The day began with students queuing up at the welcome desk as we distributed leaflets and brochures. Soon, the hall was swarming with students and parents and we needed to guide them to the respective venues. The massive turnout was testament to the wide reach and popularity of the University amongst the students. The students were quite quizzical and more often than not, they wanted a chat with the student ambassadors to get a personal view or a first-hand experience of their time at the University.
The event was well planned and structured with gaps between important talks to enable the students and their parents to attend them. There was an impressive show of technology as most of the talks were recorded and posted on YouTube for the students in case they missed them. The details of the events were on all popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and the event was well covered. Kudos to the digital communications team for their splendid efforts! The newly launched blog site was also well publicised. I would not like to sound modest here – it gave me a sense of immense pride as I handed out leaflets to the students about the Life at Southampton blog and mentioned that four fantastic students had been selected to narrate their university experiences and I was one amongst them.
My specific role during the event was to help the Outreach Officer for Fees and Finance talks. The particular talk was quite popular among the students and their parents as the increased fees for undergraduate courses in England are a burning topic. Such was the popularity of this talk that the lecture theatre got packed to its capacity 15-20 minutes before the talk commenced. We had to turn down some students and it felt awful – but the talk was posted on the University’s YouTube channel so no one missed out.
The Fees and Finance talks team
At the end of the event, one could judge the popularity of the University by the sheer number of guests who had come from all over England, Wales and even Scotland to attend the open days. I remember that whilst handing over a leaflet which mentioned “Five Reasons to join the University”, one of the parents asked me if I knew all five myself. Well, my answer was that I could suggest at least ten reasons why one should join the University.
I feel really proud and privileged to be a part of this great institution and hope the future students would also share my views. I hope the fantastic Open Days did make some difference to the prospective students and helped them make the correct decision. A right step in the present paves the way for a bright future!