Telling it like it is for prospectives during physical tour

To make it possible for high school seniors to see the campus buildings and facilities, and to taste a little of the atmosphere before they enroll at a university, the TU/e's information and recruitment team has undertaken to give prospective students a one-to-one guided tour. Rik Verpalen is one of the hundred-and-forty seniors being walked down the Groene Loper to the lecture theaters where he may be studying in 2021/22. The honor of accompanying him fell to student information officer Angelique Sander.

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photo Bart van Overbeeke

“Given the circumstances it was really fun,” says Rik Verpalen, a student in the sixth year of pre-university education and who came down by train from Arnhem for the occasion. “I think it is a lovely campus, in the middle of the city and yet really green.” Of the universities he is interested in, TU/e is the only one to welcome him in the flesh, otherwise he would gladly have paid a visit to Groningen and Enschede.

He was guided around by Industrial Engineering student Angelique Sander. In the briefing she was given, it says: ‘The aim of this project is not to persuade prospective students to come and study with us, but to match the right student with the right place.’

Rik's experience has borne this out. “Angelique was very honest and told me that math is maybe more important than I would have liked. And that there are more men than women, but then that's not surprising for a university of technology.”

Live experience

“The pre-enrollment figures for Dutch high school seniors at the Bachelor College were lagging behind those for international enrolments,” says project leader Marjan van Ganzenwinkel. “This may be due to the circumstances surrounding the corona pandemic. It may be that seniors are delaying their program choice. Many of them have not yet been able to familiarize themselves with our campus, students, facilities and buildings.”

From school principals, Van Ganzenwinkel has been hearing that their seniors in the academic stream (VWO) are keen to talk to university students in person, that they want to taste the atmosphere on the campus and to see the buildings and facilities for themselves at the university of their choice. “This sparked the idea of offering this group of prospective students an experience on our TU/e campus, as soon as possible and certainly before May 1st because that's the deadline for enrolment.”

She gave Angelique and the other guides the following instructions: ‘You are our calling cards, and as such you reflect our TU/e community. Just tell it like it is, how you yourself see and experience things. Don't go painting anything better than it is, and you can certainly discuss with them challenges, aha moments and pitfalls you've encountered. How was your own transition from school to university, for example?’

Mixed feelings

Angelique has been actively involved in the information and recruitment team for the past three years. The one-to-one sessions have both pros and cons, she feels. “You get into personal stuff more quickly and don't get stuck in general questions. But hearing the questions other people ask can sometimes be illuminating, reassuring. When it was me shadowing a student in 2017, I liked hearing from the others in my group how far along they were in making their choice. And we spent an entire day on the campus and rounded things off with a drink in the city.”

innoSpace

The most fun thing to show Rik, Angelique thinks, is innoSpace. “I feel it's a good place to show TU/e's true nature. You get to see how easily it is to become part of a team, and that it's totally your own choice. You see how open our education is; students from every study program are sitting here together instead of in their own buildings, as we do in Atlas. And I'd rather show the design process than an empty lecture theater.”

Rik, too, is impressed by innoSpace. “As I understand it, it is where you can begin a project of your own if you have a good idea. It's where you can find people to work with you, you can use the equipment. It all sounds great.”

Enough time

The hour in which Angelique also showed him the library in MetaForum, the sports pitches, the lower floors of Atlas and The Villa (where association Industria has space), was not too short for Rik. “I've been able to ask what I wanted to. It's odd though, I had high expectations and I really enjoyed the tour, but I don't have that feeling that this is absolutely the right place for me. I need more time to decide whether I'm going to enroll here.”

The Communication Expertise Center is also organizing online shadow days in March and April, and high school students can sign up for an online Q&A session. Rik doesn't feel that's something he needs: “I've already had all my questions answered.”

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