2016 is almost at a close, and as the New Year draws near, ‘deadline’ is the buzzword du jour for students all over. Test registration deadline, academic references deadline, personal statement deadline, attested documents submission deadline – if you’re looking to head to university, it’s likely that deadlines are all you’re currently thinking about. Before you dive into the deadline pool, however, there is one decision that precedes all the fever: figuring out which universities to apply to in the first place.
While knowing your major subject or a specific field of study can help a lot when deciding where to apply, the university experience (especially at the undergraduate level) is about far more than mere academics. Campus life, the facilities on offer, extra-curricular activities, and the demographics of your fellow students all play a crucial role in determining which universities catch your eye, and what institution holds the coveted place of ‘dream school’ in your mind.
Talking to alumni, university brochures, and websites are all great ways to gather information about your prospective university; however, Open Days offer students the best insights by covering all aspects of life. It is only by visiting a campus in person and experiencing on the ground the actual life of a particular university that one can know what it’s like to be a student there. Moreover, Open Days allow students to meet the admissions personnel who will be assessing their applications, giving you a chance to pick up valuable tips about what they’re looking for in successful candidates– whether undergraduate or post-graduate.
While prevalent in most countries abroad, the majority of universities in Pakistan do not organize regular Open Days. The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), the country’s most pre-eminent higher education institution, is an exception to this rule. This year, LUMS is holding three separate Open Days in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. And if you’re looking to join the august crowd of notable LUMS alumni, these five tips will give you great insights on what to look out for and what questions to ask so that you can make the most of the short time slot available.
- Research: Before you head to LUMS for their Open Day, do some quick research. The University website is a great source of hardcore official information, but if you want to get a feel for what LUMS students think and feel, make sure you check out their official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Be sure to look at the comments under specific posts, and to look at what content has been re-posted, re-Tweeted, etc.
- Campus Life: Coming to an Open Day is the best way to assess the chemistry between you and the university. Each of us has a set of priorities and expectations from our academic institutions; so visit the campus in real life and see if it checks all the boxes you’re looking for. Check out the library, labs, classrooms, cafeterias, sports center, and grounds. See the campus in real-time.
- Chat with existing students: And while roaming around the campus, take a moment to catch up with existing students and let them tell you about their experiences so far. If cornering an unsuspecting student doesn’t appeal to you, ask your student tour guide if they are part of any societies, where they go out in the evening, and how they knew that this university was the right choice for them.
- Know the curriculum and faculty: Be sure you know what subjects are being offered – and if you want to make an impression, research the professors who will be teaching the subjects you are most interested in. The Open Day is your chance to interact with your potential future teachers and offers a unique opportunity for you to impress them with your knowledge of their academic work.
- Queries and Fee structure: This is also the best time to meet financial advisors, who can answer all your potential queries. One-on-one conversations are possibly the best way to get information about financial support such as scholarships, flexi-payments of tuition fee, support for disability, and student loans.
More than anything else, the LUMS Open Day gives you a chance to put yourself in the shoes of a real Luminite. By the end of the day, you should be in a much better position to assess whether or not LUMS is the right fit for you and you for it. It’s also important to remember that Open Days – especially those held by LUMS – are not exclusive to those looking to dip their toes into Higher Education. From post-graduate applicants to management executives looking to hone their professional skills, Open Days are a font of knowledge and experience. It may be worthwhile dropping by even if you are only toying with the idea of returning to academia. You never know, you might end up surprising yourself by enrolling in an after-work post-grad class or short course which could end up playing an integral role in your career.