Waterford Institute of Technology is expecting over 1,000 prospective students to pass through their doors as part of their expanded ‘Try’ events this year, which give participants real life experience of a huge range of courses from Nursing, Theatre Studies and Languages to Law, Engineering and Architecture.
Such is the demand that some events — e.g. Architecture — will be run again in the coming months.
WIT Try events differ from college open days as it’s all about giving students a real-life sense of what it’s like to actually study on the course.
“It gives students a better insight into the course so they can decide if it is — or isn’t — for them,” says Olive O’Connor, WIT marketing and communications manager.
Try Nursing is run over two days and involves a lot of practical work, while in the Try Business event, there are four disciplines in the department — and all of the participants get to experience each one.
In Try Architecture, the students are given something to build and consider, while in Try Law they are given a case to work on.
Try Nursing was the first of these events and ran successfully for a number of years before the scheme grew organically two years ago to include other courses.
Now there are 16 different subjects available for students to try, with five more in the pipeline. Events like these are a great way for students to make more informed choices, and it is unfortunate that they are not more widely available.
Olive O’Connor explains why this is the case.
Getting a realistic picture of what’s involved in a particular course can not only help students make better, more informed choices, but it is also hoped that it will help with retention rates. All third level institutions struggle with high first-year drop out rates.
So far 750 participants have come to WIT Try events for this year, with more 200 due in the coming weeks.
Due to the level of demand, a number of extra events are due to be held, which will easily bring the number of participants to over 1,000. That’s about half of the college’s entire first year intake, which stands at 2,100 students.
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To attend a Try event costs €15 to €20. The initial events were free, but WIT quickly learned that things that come free are often not valued. Events would be booked out but when the time came half of the people wouldn’t turn up.
Now, WIT have put a value on these events of €15 to €20 — money which is used to pay for materials, lunches and ‘free stuff’, making it a cost neutral enterprise.
It also means that only people with a genuine interest in a subject area are likely to sign up, pay for and show up at a Try event.
Another Waterford Institute of Technology initiative aimed at improving retention rates among first years is currently being piloted in secondary schools in the South East region.
For updates in WIT Try events: www.wit.ie/events