Living in a state as vast as Western Australia means that for some high school students, their first visit to a University campus won’t be until their orientation day.
This is why our Future Student Advisers, in the Future Students Contact Centre, are so important. Alison Chan, Naseem Mkandawire and Ruth Kastrati are often the first faces high school students put to the University.
While the rest of the University prepares to welcome the 2016 student cohort onto campus, this small team will be out and about fostering relationships with thousands of year 10, 11 and 12 high school students to build future years’ cohorts.
“Last year we visited over 300 metro and regional schools right across WA, up in Darwin and even as far as Adelaide and Sydney,” said Alison. “Our visits are about promoting UWA, answering questions and providing advice on subject selection to ensure the students are on the right path toward their chosen course. These visits are the first step in building a face to face relationship with potential future students, and it is essential that the experience is friendly, helpful and positive.”
Keeping a room full of teenagers enthusiastic and engaged is no easy feat, so the team regularly collects feedback to ensure their presentations are interesting, relevant and hitting the mark.
So what is it that high school students really want to know about University?
“It’s quite interesting actually, you would think the social aspect would be high on their agenda but it’s not. High school students are really savvy and switched on, they know how competitive it is out there and they want to know ‘if I study this, what job can I get and what is the job market like in that field?’“ explained Naseem.
The team uses TISC preference data to tailor their presentations. For example if school has a lot of students applying for commerce they will include specific information on the Business school, stories of current commerce students and, something that has proved very popular, statics on job prospects and starting salaries.
“We do also include some standard information in each presentation, and high on that list is explaining the UWA course structure. We get a lot of questions on this as the concept isn’t widely understood but once we explain it the response is overwhelmingly positive,” said Ruth. “So many high school students aren’t sure what they want to major in when they apply to university so having the flexibility to try different things before picking a major at the end of their first year is really popular,” she added.
With the school visit schedule about to kick off for the year, the team are keen to further showcase UWA’s faculties.
“We are working toward having faculty representation for each visit. We can certainly do the visits on our own but having a senior member of faculty staff there really adds to the experience. You can tell it makes the students feel special to have someone that important take time away from their busy schedule to come and talk to them,” said Naseem.
The first school visits for the year take place this month, hitting peak time in June and July when the advisers will often visit three schools in a single day. By the end of the year the team will have seen almost 22,000 high school students. It’s a busy job being the face of UWA, but their obvious dedication and enthusiasm for the role makes it clear that these three can handle it.