Attending Open Days is an essential part of the University experience. You don’t want to miss getting filled up with free pens and prospectuses (or is it prospecti?). But how do you make the most of a University Open Day?
If you don’t have time to visit all of your choices then events like the East Midlands Higher Education Fair can be fantastic. This is where hundreds of education providers, college representatives, and industry professionals present themselves in a single space so you can go round collecting prospectuses and asking questions. If your College or School isn’t planning a trip it might be worth bringing it up to your careers advisor.
Before you go to an Open Day:
There are around 130 University institutions in the UK so you are spoilt for choice! But there really is no reason to visit every single one. Of course, if you are applying through UCAS you are only able to apply for 5 courses/Universities at a time. Only book onto Open Days for Universities that you are actually interested in.
Most Open Days will have a set programme of talks and events beginning at 9/9:30 am until 4pm-ish. This schedule will be released sometime before your open day so you can plan which events you are attending. It is really important to utilise the events that are put on during the day. Don’t just turn up blind, book yourself onto talks and have a plan of which events you are wanting to apply for.
On the day:
It is a good idea to attend an Open Day with someone who knows you. They can give a second opinion as to whether the University is right for you.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is they turn up, wonder around for a bit, then leave without utilising the people there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The staff will have heard everything before so there are no daft questions. Most Universities will employ student ambassadors to help out on their Open Days. They will be able to tell you about aspects of student life that the staff may not have an insight into.
Many of the lecturers and course tutors will be present on the Open Day. They will be able to answer questions on course content, structure and general day to day running of the course.
Something that students usually forget to do while on an Open Day is speak to the accommodation team. If you haven’t booked anything yet make sure that you speak to the accommodation providers. As well as the University’s Accommodation Team there may be other accommodation suppliers, like Sulets, who will be able to offer helpful advice in your search for accommodation.
There will be tours of accommodation on the day. Some will be drop-in and some will be organised viewings.
Some Universities will have specific taster days for SEN students or for taster lectures. You will be able to sign up for these online but be sure to ask when you visit the campus.
If you have time, take a walk into the town center and wider campus to really understand what kind of University it is.
Some handy questions to consider
Don’t arrive without anything to consider, you’ve got to think about why it is that you want to go to that University.
What is the split between seminars and lectures?
How much studying are you expected to do outside of contact time?
How much tutor support will you receive?
Are there any extra opportunities around my subject, such as workshops?
If I don’t meet the grades, is there still a chance I could be offered a place?
Should I apply for more than one course from this University?
What will make me stand out on my application?
Will there be interviews before I am offered a place?
What career support is there?
How do I apply for accommodation?
When is it available?
What type of accommodation is available to you?
After the day:
If you have a conversation with a tutor or module leader it is wise to get a contact email address for them, you can send them a little message thanking them for their time. It will make you memorable and they will be glad that their time was worthwhile.
Open Days are there for you to make the most of and to help you make what is an important decision. By taking part in Open Days you will find out more and be able to compare different aspects of the possible Universities on your list.