Over the summer my school changed a few things in one of our buildings: they turned a lounge into a lab, created a new lab, and combined two student lounges into one. We also had a new faculty member take over a high-interest class. The lounge-into-lab is now utilized by three or four classes. The new lab is used by a single instructor for her specialty class. The new lounge lacked furniture until mid-September, and that was the biggest problem. So, we came up with a solution: hold an open house showcasing all of the new changes.
After some discussion, we had a date and time. I had our student workers create a poster, I ordered sheet pizzas and soda, contacted faculty to show off work from their classes, and scheduled student workers to help out during the event. It was a decent amount of work, and as always there were minor issues leading up to the evening event — a faculty member informed the office that there was a misspelling on the poster, and a featured faculty member was going to be late due to a previous commitment.
We had planned to have the event from 4pm to 6pm. At 4pm students started flocking to the lounge with the pizza. By 5pm, there were no more students, no more pizza, and I had sent all of my student workers home.
It was a flop. Not a total flop, because the students who attended now know about some of the changes, but it could have gone much better. Some of the faculty involved thought it was great. After thinking about it, and discussing it with colleagues, there are things that we could have done differently. I don’t know if we’ll be doing another Open House in the near future, but some of the lessons can be transferred to other events and we’re always putting on other events.
We could have offered pizza in all of the rooms we were showcasing or involved more faculty members. After learning of a misspelling on the poster, my coworker and I decided that we should look for a student with a design background to work on an as-needed basis. We should have offered it earlier in the year instead of during week three. I also think that if more faculty were involved, the faculty who utilize the new computer lab, for example, we could have had more students attend. If we had planned activities, such as a raffle for completing a passport or other incentive to visit all of the locations, students may have spent more time at the event.
Do you think our goal of a two hour event was too lofty? How would you bring more students to an event like this?