Open days are one of the best ways to properly examine the university options that might be available to you, before making a final decision on where to study. While leafing through prospectuses and reading reviews online can help shape your decision on where to study, it cannot give as good an indication as actually visiting a university to get a feel for it yourself!
Many students agree that seeing the campus and exploring the facilities and amenities provides the strongest gauge of whether or not it’s likely to be right for them. Most say they get a feeling when it seems right.
Here are our top tips to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities provided by university open days.
Being prepared is the best way to get the most out of the open day experience. Start by preparing a list of the universities that you are potentially interested in and would like to visit for a closer look. There are too many options for you to visit every single university, so create a manageable shortlist of those you are interested in!
Make sure you have a clear idea of the course you are considering for each of these universities and a list of questions you can ask to help guide your choice.
When you are at an open day, one of the most valuable things you can do is speak to people. Anyone who can give you a better sense of what the university is like, including existing students and tutors, is worth chatting to.
While tutors can give you a good overview of the course and what assessment methods are used, students may provide a more realistic view of what the university is like. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be negative, but they can give let you know where there may be potential drawbacks in non-academic areas like socialising.
Once you arrive for open day, make sure you have a proper nose around as much of the campus as you can – not only in the designated open day areas where everything has been set up for you to look around. This process can give you a better indication of what day to day life is like on campus when there is not an open day running.
Try stopping in at the canteen for some food, or have a peek at the student union. It’s good to even try popping into the local town/city centre to see what kind of student life is available – it might not seem that important now, but it will matter once you’re settled at university.
As above, talking to many different people is the best way to get more information. However, you also need to make sure you are asking the right questions.
While some students might want to focus on finding out what the local party scene is like, others will want to make sure courses are being assessed using methods that play to their strengths. Asking the questions that will have the most impact on your personal experience of the university is very valuable.
It can be useful to take your parents along to university open days – it can keep your costs down for one thing. However you need to make sure they are not the ones asking all the questions once you arrive on campus. You are the one who will actually be living the student experience, so make sure you are driving the decision making process – not your parents!
The best way to make the most of the open day process is to combine what you learn from your open day with additional research from other sources. While you might get a good feeling about a place from spending some time there, you will want to verify this by reading some other opinions online and if possible speaking to others who have studied there.