Explore UT motivates young Texas students to pursue higher education

2014_03_03_Explore_UT_Ethan

Ethan Oblak

Pharmacy student Lynn Keerikattu helps Eric Thompson mix chemicals during a “potions class” at Explore UT. The yearly event featuring 50,000 people is geared toward inspiring younger generations to attend college.

Justin Atkinson

About 50,000 people flooded the UT campus Saturday for Explore UT — nicknamed “The Biggest Open House in Texas” — which encourages schoolchildren to pursue higher education.

Explore UT, in its 15th year, is held on the first weekend of March, with preparations beginning in August. President William Powers Jr. appoints an academic dean to coordinate the planning committee, and volunteers plan hundreds of events during the fall semester.

As a senior staff member working inside one of the information booths, finance senior Truc Nguyen said she enjoys encouraging younger students to get excited about college.

“It’s an opportunity for children and little kids to come to UT and know that they can come to college,” Nguyen said. “It’s for everyone. We want to tell younger students and families that college is an option.”

Of the 50,000 people, about 19,500 were students representing 109 school districts and 230 individually registered schools from across Texas.

Advertising senior Angelica King said she thinks attendance at the open house event has grown in recent years.

“There’s always a pretty good turnout, and it seems like the volume of people who come to visit is steadily increasing,” King said. “There are literally families everywhere, and I think the students know not to come out of their rooms.”

Environmental science junior Zoi Thompson, a volunteer at the event, said despite the increase in visitors, UT has been able to accommodate the students and their families.

“It can be hard to accommodate all the people visiting, but UT is really prepared and organized after years of doing the event,” Thompson said. “It’s really well set up to guide people to their interests.”

Thompson said even though there are slight schedule changes every year in events run by organizations, she feels the objective of Explore UT continues to be to motivate younger generations toward higher education.

“It’s up to the school and different organizations to put on the events, so sometimes it changes, sometimes it stays the same,” Thompson said. “We’ve always strived to aim the events at younger kids to get them excited about coming to college. I think the underlying motivation is to show that college is possible.”