Journées du savoir events add to already busy schedule
By Jim Hynes
The buses many will ride to get here will only hit the road that morning, but the planning that will bring thousands of prospective students and their families to McGill for Open House on Sunday, Oct. 24, started months ago.
Last year, some 7,000 people took in lectures, information sessions and a variety of tours at the first ever fall Open House. In keeping with tradition, the University has once again chartered buses to bring in visitors from different Quebec regions. In past years, the event also attracted prospective international students from countries as far away as India, China, Nigeria, Turkey, Belarus, Russia, Algeria and Venezuela, not to mention the U.S. and the rest of Canada.
“Open House gives prospective students a chance to come and see the University and talk to students affairs and admissions officers about programs, basically to learn about what McGill has to offer,” said Debra Blanch, the Events Administrator, Enrolment Services (Marketing and Planning), who chairs the Open House organizing committee. “But the biggest thing is that they actually get to see the campus in person, and just how huge and attractive it is.”
For the first time, this year’s event features two welcome areas, one in the Arts Building and the other in the new Service Point on McTavish St. In another new initiative this year, the Faculty of Medicine will house all of its Graduate Studies kiosks under one roof, at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre atrium. Over all, the University has opened up more of the campus and its buildings than in past years.
“Prospective students visiting us this year will get to see a lot more of McGill than in the past, where things were more centralized,” said Blanch, who is working on her seventh McGill Open House. “A lot of the faculties are housed in their own areas, so students can actually see where they are going to school, where most of their classes will be held.
“The number of faculty-based information sessions has really grown over the years as well. When we started out seven years ago, there wasn’t a single one. Back then it was more of a general information session. And now almost every single faculty offers one. It’s really become value-added.”
Which is a good thing, because what prospective students are really doing is shopping, Blanch says.
“They’re trying to get the best program they can for their buck. And students are much more mobile now than they used to be. They are willing to leave home and live in residence, and commute to go to school. So there are a lot of choices for them out there. We’d like to make McGill their first choice.”
Adding yet more value, two “Journées du savoir” events, a province-wide initiative of Quebec’s universities highlighting the importance of research and higher education, will take place during Open House. The Redpath Museum will offer a variety of activities and guided tours throughout the day, as well as fun science demonstrations by members of McGill’s WOW lab. At Reach for the Stars (at Moyse Hall, 2 p.m.), visitors will have the opportunity to meet astronauts and Faculty of Medicine grads Drs. Robert Thirsk and Dave Williams. As part of this event, the University will announce a new fellowship in honour of the outstanding achievements of the duo and fellow astronaut and McGill grad Julie Payette.
The Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will participate in the main Open House activities on the downtown campus. A “sneak peek” of the Macdonald Campus takes place the next day.
For more information on Open House, visit www.mcgill.ca/openhouse