Harper College is thrilled to host the 2023 edition of Experience Day, which invites local families and students of all ages to explore campus and participate in more than 40 hands-on activities. Experience Day will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, November 4, on Harper’s campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. The annual event is free, open to the community and does not require registration.
Younger students and their families can look forward to past favorites such as the Engineering Building Challenge, Computer Drawing with Sketch Up and Solar Telescope Activity. High school-age students can tour Harper labs while meeting faculty and current students.
Harper Professor Maggie Geppert said that Experience Day is a day for breaking down any boundaries and fears potential students may have as they take their first steps on a college campus.
“We want every student who comes in to be able to envision themselves as a college student,” she said. “That’s what Experience Day is all about.”
Geppert, who has been on the Experience Day planning committee since its inception, shared the importance of making a positive first impact on potential students.
“We’ve got a lot of low-income students in our district. We’ve got a lot of students who are immigrants or children of immigrants, whose parents have never gone to college,” Geppert said. “So when they come here, we can show them, yes, this is a place for you. This is a place for everybody.”
Harper employees know that a college environment can be an intimidating place and that uncertainties surrounding students’ visions of college can be a great obstacle.
Geppert said one of the goals of Experience Day is to break down those uncertainties with humor and fun, and give students a chance to chat with instructors and currently enrolled students face-to-face.
“We want students’ very first experience with college to be positive and welcoming,” Geppert said. “Harper is really here to serve the community.”
Students and their families can expect to meet faculty from Harper’s Career and Technical Programs, Math and Science, Business and Social Science, and Liberal Arts divisions, as well as community members from local libraries, organizations, and fire and police departments. In addition, activities will be available in Harper’s Makerspace and Entrepreneur Center along with tours of the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab, HVACR Equipment Open Lab and Crime Lab.
Geppert mentioned that families are able to ask wide ranging questions about any aspect of college life.
“We’ve had questions about anything from ‘We heard about this Promise Scholarship’ to ‘How much does it cost to go here?’ or ‘What types of things can you major in?’” she recalled. “We’re not just up on a stage showing things off to each other, we’re here as people. We’re here to talk.”
Indeed, the spirit of Experience Day is building human connections and sharing diverse passions and ideas. Part of that is seeing professors in action, conducting hands-on activities, sharing why physics, for example, can be so intriguing and fulfilling, not just as a stepping stone towards an engineering degree.
Whether that comes through playing music on the flames of a Rubens tube or navigating a human-powered lunar rover, students are able to catch a snapshot of what goes on in Harper classes and what makes a physicist’s face light up with joy.
Geppert emphasized that Experience Day really aims to bring out this hands-on spirit for learning and build relationships at the same time, introducing young learners to the idea that a college experience is being part of a community as much as it is a solo adventure.
“This journey is really made meaningful because of the people who we meet and inspire us along the way,” Geppert said before underlining her message to the young students who will participate in Experience Day: “This is a place for you. This is a place for everybody. And we hope to see you here as college students in a few years!”
Visit the Experience Day webpage for more information.