The University Experience Panel NSG project has proved to be a successful event for both the high school student attendees and the post-secondary student panelists. However, the preparation process for this event involved numerous obstacles that my team and I had to face.
Initially, we designed the panel to be an in-person event taking place in a neighbourhood community centre or library. However, there were numerous complications regarding location bookings and their timing availability. Many of the rooms that we wanted to rent were not available on the set date we had for the event. Furthermore, we could not find an event date that worked for all the panelists, which led to this drastic change in plans. Thus, the biggest challenge we encountered was moving the entire platform of the event to Zoom. We were afraid that a virtual event would not be as engaging or interesting to attend, which would mean that fewer students may have wanted to join.
Despite all these challenges, my team and I were able to adapt and modify the event format so that we are still able to achieve our main goal of helping high school students gain more insight into post-secondary life. We set up many more organizer meetings to work out the details for the new format while still maintaining the general event layout. Fortunately, the zoom platform allowed many high school students (39 in total) to join the event from the comfort of their own homes. Thus, we learned that maybe hosting such an event through Zoom is more convenient for students.
One key moment was the breakout room session at the event. As we were monitoring the rooms, we were very encouraged to see students constantly asking questions to the panelists and being engaged in the breakout room discussions. Panelists and students were able to develop lasting connections through this event. At the end of the panel, it was extremely rewarding to see a flood of thank you messages in the Zoom chat box from student attendees who found this event to be very insightful.