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Open on Saturday: Gearing up for Open House 2014

- August 20, 2014

A scene from Open House 2013. (Danny Abriel photo)
A scene from Open House 2013. (Danny Abriel photo)

It’s been nine years since Dalhousie first held an annual Open House event specifically focused on welcoming hundreds of high school students and their parents to campus to attend lectures, tour residences and, for many, to get their first up-close look at what their future Dal experience may be like.

This year’s Open House will be plenty familiar to faculty and staff who’ve volunteered at the event in the past, but it’s also an evolution of the format in a few notable ways — foremost among them, the date.

For the first time, Open House is moving from its traditional Friday date to the weekend: Saturday, October 25, to be exact.

One of the main reasons for the change is a desire to open up the Open House experience to more students and parents. While Dal’s first Open House in 2005 brought 800 high school students and their parents to campus, last year’s event attracted 1,600 — pretty much the maximum amount of people that campus can handle on a weekday.

“It’s become so successful that we’re at the limit of what we can manage while classes are in session, considering the available classroom and event space,” explains Åsa Kachan, assistant vice-president enrolment management & registrar.

“Best practice research on university recruitment point to the campus visit as a key moment in the university decision-making process: it’s where students really get to visualize what life on campus is like. Moving to Saturday frees up our best campus spaces for tours, lectures and other Open House events; it really gives our future students the best possible look at what we have to offer.”

It also means more opportunities for current Dal students — who would otherwise be in classes — to take part. This year’s event will add a club/society fair where current students can meet future students to explore the multitude of ways they can get involved on campus.

Expanding access

Another motivation behind the day change is that while Open House was originally focused largely on local or regional students, the event has been increasingly attracting prospective students from out-of-province: Ontario, Newfoundland, Alberta, British Columbia and even the United States and beyond.

“Interest in Dalhousie from outside the region has been growing steadily over the past few years. By hosting the event on a Saturday, it’s our hope that we’ll enable more of those students and parents to make the trip without having to worry about missing classes or work,” adds Adam Robertson, associate registrar and director of recruitment.

Open House will also include greater choice and flexibility for students in how they spend their day: more customized scheduling; more frequent tours; three different fairs to check out (academics, services, and clubs and societies); sessions on admissions, scholarships and more. As well, the incredibly popular on-site admissions will now be accessible throughout the day, so many students can find out whether they’re accepted to Dal right on the spot. Events will take place across all three Halifax campuses, and the Faculty of Agriculture will be represented as well. (Agriculture also has its own Discovery Day event in Truro for future students, scheduled for November 7.)

A volunteer effort

Open House is made possible by volunteers from all over campus, across every faculty, and the Open House Committee is already getting great response from volunteers signing up to take part on the Saturday.

“Open House is an important day for campus, and key to our ongoing enrolment success," says Robertson. "We’re confident that our team of volunteers will help deliver an incredibly memorable experience for our future students.”

Registration for Open House 2014 will open in September. For more information, visit dal.ca/openhouse


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