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Open days and orientation days have more value than meets the eye. Natalie Rabson of Boston City Campus and Business College explains that though they are great fun, such days actually offer serious benefits to all students.

She urges all students to attend the orientation and open days at the institutions where they intend studying.

“Over the past few weeks, we have hosted open days, registration days and orientation days at our campuses right across the country,” she says. “Students love the shows and the talks; the music and dancing; the give-away and the whole festive vibe that characterises these days at Boston campuses.

However, we’d like to point out that there is much more behind the orientation and open days and that students must make full use of them.”During orientation days, students are welcomed and are made to feel at home in their new environment.

According to Rabson this is important because first-time students are accustomed to the school system and procedure.

They need to make the transition to tertiary education and its systems and procedures.

“The school environment is protected and learners rely mostly on their parents to sort out matters for them,” she says.

“College and varsity environments are different, more intimidating and require more independence and self-confidence from students.

At Boston, we try to make the transition fun so that students land softly and learn to stand on their own two feet as adults for the rest of their studies and beyond.”

Students usually get loads of hand-outs at orientation days.

While some of the hand-outs are fun items, the orientation packs contain crucial information that includes:

· Tips on avoiding plagiarism

· How to get the best out of your studies

· Information on college systems, procedures and regulations

· Exam tips

· Campus layout and contact details of advisors, administrative and lecturing staff

“The guidelines on plagiarism are particularly popular as students don’t know how to ensure that their work doesn’t infringe on others’ copyright,” Rabson points out.

“Nowadays it is no excuse to say, ‘I didn’t know about it.’ In this knowledge age, intellectual property is very important and we teach our students the basics around copyright.”

During orientation and open days, Boston invites guest speakers from industry to give informative talks on what it is like in the real world of work. Students get an opportunity to ask whatever questions they have on their hearts and minds.

“We encourage students from the very beginning to network and make acquaintance with people that can help them in their studies and careers,” Rabson adds. “After all, students enter further education to get new skills and become work ready – it is not enough to simply pass exams.”

It goes without saying that orientation days include some physical orientation as well: students get to see their classrooms and the equipment on which they will be working.

Each student is assured of a seat and is allocated whichever equipment is appropriate; usually a computer, but in courses in media and digital music production, and radio, for example, there’s other equipment as well.

Rabson believes that orientation is valuable for first-time students as well as ‘old timers’. “Every new academic level requires different output and more commitment from students,” she elaborates. “As they progress, students are required to work at a more advanced level.

So though old timers may have experienced a year or two on tertiary level, they can benefit from orientation days by talking to their subject experts and industry guests.

It is also an opportunity to find out what is new and get to grips with changes they may not be aware of.”

For more information on the next semester open days, registration and orientation days, visit www.boston.co.za , or phone (011) 551-9000.

Side bar: Benefits of orientation days

· Physical orientation; students find out where are the classrooms, bathrooms, etc.

· Valuable practical tips on exams, social life, dos and don’ts

· Emotional wellbeing; students feel welcome, get a chance to familiarise themselves with new environment, can allay their fears and anxiety

· Opportunity to network with industry experts and college personnel

· Opportunity to make new friends

· Opportunity to have great fun

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