Making the most of university open days
University open day season is nearly upon us! So we thought some advice and guidance on university open days would be timely. Open days are predominately aimed at year 12 who are starting to think about university. They start at roughly the same time as the UCAS conventions and run through to late October. And then there is a bit of an overlap from February until May time when lots of universities will have ‘offer holder’ days aimed at year 13’s who the university have, unsurprisingly, made offers to – to help keep potential students engaged with the university, which they may not have visited yet or not been to for a year. This blog is aimed at offering some suggestions about how to make the most of a university open day, to help you choose whether it’s got the right course for you or not. And also to see if the non academic reasons for choosing a university course are as compelling as your motivation for the subject! Got a particular interest in watching a particular sports club or want to take your own horse to university with you? These are worth finding out about before you decide the course is one of your chosen 5.
Why go to a university open day?
You can only get so much of a feel about a university from the website and their virtual tours! These can be good but actually visiting will give you a much better feel for the place. You will get a chance to find out more about the course/s that you are interested in, talk to some of the lecturers and even some of the current students. There will be a chance to look at some of the university facilities too, for instance the library, gym and even possibly some accommodation! What do you think to the facilities? Would you use them and how much? The university tours will often be taken by current students, so a good chance to ask them what student life is actually like or which halls are best to live in.
Another good reason to visit, especially if it’s a non campus university, will be the chance to look around the local area. You’re likely to be spending time away from the university buildings, so its worth having an explore!
Do go with an open mind. You will undoubtedly have preconceived ideas about what the university will be like – who doesn’t? You will leave with a much clearer idea of what it’s like, and how accurate your preconceptions were. Be prepared to be surprised! But also be aware that if you visit several universities, some may fall down your pecking list as a result…. This is actually a really good outcome – you only want to apply to universities that will carry on pleasantly surprising you.
What to look out for?
Usually, the open days are very much set up to give you as best an insight into the university, courses and student support as possible. Before you arrive, do try to make a list of what you want to have a look at and questions you’d like to find out the answers for. If you can, do talk to the lecturers there that teach what you want to study. Do they inspire you about their subject? Would you feel happy being taught by them? Are there any professional accreditations that the course has? How about placement or study abroad options? You are more likely to find out more about these things on an open day than by reading a prospectus or website, however glossy they are.
You may have particular things you want to ask the student support teams about, for instance about finance or careers support. Its worth finding out more about the students union too, what clubs and societies do they run? How keen would they be for you to start a new one? Most are very happy to support you to do this – and there have been some interesting ones set up, for instance there’s at least one chocolate appreciation society in the country!
Who are you going to go with?
Some students will go in friendship groups and perhaps visit 2 or 3 universities, open days permitting, over a few days. Some will visit with parents. A lot of universities know that students will have very different questions to their parents. They will often get parents into a different question and answer session, to answer their questions whilst you get to ask yours.
So, hopefully now you’re feeling a bit more prepared and interested in going to some university open days, following our advice and guidance. Now to actually find out when they are, https://www.opendays.com/calendar/ and https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/what-and-where-study/events-and-open-days are great starting points for this!
Here at My Uni Choices we specialise in helping students, parents & educators make the best uni choices. Review all the Universities & Courses here or discover more About Us & the best uni courses for you, finally if you’re ready let’s take The Test to find out what course or degree you should do.
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