3 reasons you shouldn’t skip virtual Open Week

university of newcastle open week 2020
Harrison Callen participated in a cultural immersion tour to Indonesia as part of his environmental enginering degree at the University of Newcastle. While international travel might be on hold for a while yet, Harrison reckons you shouldn't skip virtual open days! Image: Supplied

Without the snacks, live music and in-person buzz of the uni Open Days and Open Weeks of yesteryear (as in literally last year), you might be wondering whether there’s much point logging into the 2020’s virtual Open Weeks and Open Days, brought to you courtesy of COVID restrictions.

So we spoke to Harrison Callen, who’s in his fourth year of studying a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Newcastle, who gave us three big reasons you definitely should not skip these events.

1. You can still ask real people real questions!

Love the environment? Flicking through a uni guide book, it might not be clear whether you should be choosing environmental science, environmental engineering or something else altogether.

By going along to a virtual open day, just like an on-campus open day, you’ll still get a chance to ask real-life academics your burning questions about prospective courses and study areas to help you choose your dream degree.

“You’ll still get little tasters about what courses and course content you’ll actually be studying,” says Harrison. “For example, you’ll learn the difference between environmental science and environmental engineering, which isn’t always clear when you’re just looking at course names in a book.”

For example, at the University of Newcastle’s upcoming Open Week Online, there will be daily live interactive sessions and more than 40 degree webinars in which students and their parents can log in and talk to academics about degrees, scholarships, facilities, labs and heaps more.

Harrison says he chose environmental engineering at the University of Newcastle because it perfectly matched his passion for the environment, maths and science. He’s also recently signed up for a Diploma of Languages after being inspired to pursue a global career during a cultural immersion study experience in Indonesia in 2019.

2. You’ll still get to experience the uni vibe!

Sure, you might not be on campus yet, but Harrison reckons you should still be able to get a feel for the uni’s culture and that fun open-week vibe in the virtual realm. Not only that, you’ll get the chance to interact with other future students and take virtual tours of the campus to get you pumped for when uni life kicks off again!

Harrison, who grew up in Newcastle, says he loves the relaxed, coastal vibe of campus life at the University of Newcastle, with its beaches, bush and great cafe scene.

“Uni is such a fun step in your life,” he says. “You’ll still get some of that vibe online.”

3. Test your future uni’s online education set-up

Even when life does eventually return to post-COVID normal, online education is here to stay – so what better way to test out how good a uni might be at responding to remote learning than to log in to their virtual open day?

“You’ll want to know the uni you’re going to is going to be capable of delivering online education, and that they were able to pivot and deliver a virtual open day to support prospective students even during COVID,” says Harrison.

Harrison says he spent most of last semester studying online, and is starting to return to some of his smaller lectures with social distancing in place.

The University of Newcastle is holding its Open Week Online this 14-18 September. Register here.

This article is brought to you in partnership with the University of Newcastle.

RELATED: Are you prepped for 2020’s Virtual Open Days? Take our quiz

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.

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