By Marisa Kennedy
Over the space of two days UL welcomed almost 10,000 enthusiastic visitors to the campus as part of the UL Open Days.
They came by the bus-load from all over the country, and indeed further afield, to stroll around our campus and learn all about their perspective course’s in the areas of Business, Arts and Humanities, Nursing, Education, Physiotherapy, Sports Science and Science and Engineering.
The hoards of secondary students were met with hundreds of smiling faces in the form of open day guides, lecturers and various college staff who assisted in facilitating such a mass of students with barely a glitch!
Mother Nature was in a particularly good mood on both days, in comparison to last year, and while it was cold, the sun was shining to highlight the beautiful campus we have here in UL. Indeed many Snapchats were taken of the river from the Living Bridge or of the lovely (if slightly unusual) design of the Analog Devices building.
These Snapchats were taken as part of the competition the university was holding in which the best selfies taken and posted on Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat with #ULOpenDay would win prizes. These prizes included vouchers for the UL Gift Shop and a chance to go up in the hot air balloon that was on campus. Yes an actual hot air balloon. On campus. On the grass in front of Plassey house.
Of course as well as the hot air balloon, the big bench in the main plaza also attracted the attention of avid selfie takers. The bench was constantly full of different schools being forced into a picture by their guidance counsellors or stragglers wanting to get in on the action or indeed UL students wanting to take advantage of this weird and wonderful addition to the campus. Hat-tip to Wolfie who was bombarded for hours on both days for selfies. We in the AHSS department forgive him for being too tired to take a selfie with us on the big bench.
While there was an easy, relaxed and fun atmosphere maintained around campus all the time, secondary school students were just as eager to learn about the academic side of college life. Each student was given the opportunity to attend as many talks as they wanted on the various courses. These talks began every 30 minutes are were given by a lecturer in that particular course.
Students first gathered in the concert hall where they sat according to the department of the course they wanted a talk in. While waiting, the crowd were treated to a number of videos highlighting the non-academic side to UL. Videos of various clubs and societies, the recruitment drive and charity week were shown. “Very impressive stuff”, I heard one sixth year student remark of the clubs and socs.
Each student was then led to the room with the course talk by a friendly and chatty (I’m biased) guide and were eager to learn about life at UL from a student perspective. Once inside the room however, it was time to get down to business. “What modules will I take? What are the points? Do I need a language?”, were only a sample of the questions the lecturers generously answered again and again and again to each group.
Both days were a roaring success. Thousands of satisfied students left UL with a smile on their faces excited about life after secondary school. We can all remember those open days where we escaped the torture of the Leaving Cert for one day and were introduced to a world where students are encouraged to strive to reach their potential not only on an academic level. Where we realised that in college, the emphasis is placed on creating a student friendly vibe constantly. And that is exactly what UL open days were all about.
As one student commented before leaving, “The saying should be changed to college years are the best years of your life because I can definitely see that being true here”.