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On 27 August, I’ll be celebrating a special anniversary. It will be four years since I made the biggest decision and commitment of my life so far – the choice to come to the University of Sydney. Like any good anniversary, I’ll mark it with food, music and balloons (courtesy of Open Day, of course).

I really only went to Open Day to do my due diligence. I was determined to study a different degree at another university, but my older brother (and the siren call of free popcorn) persuaded me to ‘just check it out’. After wandering around the stalls, talking to current students and academics and listening to mini-lectures, my mind was made up – although if you’d asked me back then, I’d have said (without a hint of irony) that I decided to come to Usyd because of ‘the vibe’… it just felt right.

If you think you have a clear plan of what you want to do after you finish high school, Open Day can help to make sure you’ve considered all of your options. You can find out more about alternative pathways, scholarships, exchange and accommodation or even start sussing out what clubs and societies you might want to join. If anything, Open Day can give you that much needed confirmation that yes, there is life after the HSC, and it’s much more exciting.

If you have no idea of what you want to do, then Open Day is a good place to start. Attend as many mini-lectures as you can and take the opportunity to talk to academics and student ambassadors (they’ll be wearing red t-shirts). You’ll get a taste of what different degrees are like and can ask questions about specific subjects or admissions criteria.

Make sure you plan ahead to get the most of your day – there are few things more annoying than just missing an important talk or mini-lecture. You can download the Open Day app from early July, which can help you to organise your timetable for the day. Just make sure you leave enough time to wander around the stalls, check out the entertainment and explore the campus. A guided campus tour is a good way to get a feel for the place (and learn some fun facts to impress new friends in the first week of uni).

At Open Day in 2012, I couldn’t have predicted the friendships I would make or the unexpected subjects I would love. I didn’t know that the café I was passing would become my favourite place to study, or that the academic who provided me one-on-one advice would be the nicest lecturer ever. I just knew that the degree sounded interesting, the campus was beautiful and I was suddenly really excited to finish high school.

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