Record numbers expected at open days for sixth-formers

© 2011 EPFL

© 2011 EPFL

There will be quite a crowd on campus today! Around 1200 sixth-form students will be coming to find out more about the courses on offer. Over the next four days, no less than 2050 prospective students – a record number – will be visiting EPFL.

It’s an important decision, and one that shapes the rest of your life. Two days of immersion is not excessive when helping the future students to make an informed choice. Today and tomorrow, as well as on Thursday and Friday next wek, the School will be opening its doors to the undergraduates of the future. These visits are becoming more popular every year: 2050 have registered for this year’s event, 400 more than in 2010, and 600 more than in 2009. “The growing reputation of EPFL certainly accounts for the high attendance”, comments Maya Fruehauf, who is responsible for promoting undergraduate courses. The large majority of the sixth formers come from French-speaking Switzerland (a special day is organized in January for those from the German-speaking area and Ticino), but over 450 are travelling from France. “Our visits to certain high schools and a stand at the “Salon de l’Etudiant” student fair in Paris, as well as word-of-mouth, have all worked well”, she points out. It’s also worth remembering that the degrees awarded by the School are accredited in France by the Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur (CTI), and that students selected by the ENS in Lyon, and who have passed its entrance test, may join various departments without examination. Other young people are coming from even further afield: in particular from the USA, Sweden, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Despite this surge of interest, the percentage of girls attending the open days remains stable at around 35%.

Faced with this wave of interest, Thursday’s general information event has been reorganized for lack of a hall big enough, to be replaced by three sessions over the course of the day at the Rolex Learning Center conference hall. To get a general idea of the range of courses, the sixth-formers will take part in information sessions offered by the departments. The current students will also help by showing them around “their” campus. The second day will enable those with a greater level of interest – that is, over 75% of the participants – to soak up the atmosphere of a department, attend workshops and meet the specialists. Almost 200 people (including undergraduates and doctoral students, professors, and those working in industry) will be called upon to answer questions from the sixth-formers during the practical exercises, discussion sessions, mealtimes, etc. “The aim is to attract new students who have made an informed choice,” points out Maya Fruehauf, “and not to promise them a ‘perfect’ education.” The number of sixth-formers registered for each department reflects the proportion of students in the department. For example, architecture and life sciences have over 100 signed up, which is more than communication systems, electricity or materials. “We don’t know how many of those attending the open days will actually enrol at the start of the 2011 academic year,” emphasizes Maya Fruehauf, “but a survey conducted among new students indicated that around half of them rated these information events most highly in the list of factors that influenced their choice.”

Source: EPFL