Five things to consider before your university open day

Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:00 AM

Our friends at the Student Room have some great advice about the five things to consider before your university open day.

Open days are hugely important when you're deciding which universities you'll apply to. Sure, you might start your uni-deciding expedition by flicking through prospectuses, but you don't want to make life-changing decisions (such as where you're going to study for the next three years) based solely on some glossy marketing materials.

To get a real feel for a uni, there's nothing to compare with actually visiting it (preferably on a wet Wednesday in November, for the authentic experience!). On The Student Room, we hear from countless students who had their heart set on a particular uni, only to visit on its open day and discover it really wasn't for them. Before you go, here's how to make sure you're ready.

MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT

Cast your mind back to your cub scout/brownie training and be prepared. First up, lots of unis require you to book a place on their open days. Don't leave that to the last minute; you run the risk of finding your chosen date is all filled up. Check out when the open days are happening at the unis you're considering, then work out a timetable of where you're going to visit and when.

The open day itself will be mixture of campus tours and talks about courses, accommodation, financial issues and so on. You can go to as many or as few of these talks and tours as you like. Just make sure you have a clear idea in advance of what information you want to get from your open day - make that your focus during the day.

BE READY WITH QUESTIONS TO ASK

An open day is your chance to ask as many questions as you can think of about the uni and the course you're thinking of applying for. Work out a ton of questions before you go, and write them down so you don't forget them.

Your most important questions will be those about your course. After all, this is the reason you're going to uni for the next few years. Find out how many hours of lectures and seminars you will have each week. How is the course taught? How has it evolved in recent years? Is assessment primarily via exams or coursework? Dig into those questions as much as you can, then turn your focus to the rest of the uni. What are its facilities like? Are all new students guaranteed a place in halls? What careers guidance is available for students? Ask questions that will give you a full picture of the university.

HAVE A CHAT WITH THE STUDENT GUIDES

Following on from the above, make sure you also take the chance to chat to the student guides who are showing you around. These are the people who can tell you what it's like to live at this particular uni, so ask them about the things that matter to you. How easy is it to find part-time work in the area? How much does it cost to live here? What did they only find out after they started? What are the best halls - and the worst? Has anything about the course come as a surprise to them?

TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU

If you prefer to go to your open days on your own, that's fine, but it can be really handy to have someone alongside you throughout the day. Lots of people take a parent, but you may choose to go with a friend. Either way, they might spot things about the uni that you hadn't noticed or think of another question that hadn't occurred to you. It's also nice to have someone familiar there if you're a bit shy (or just need a lift!).

TAKE A NOTEBOOK

Open days are long and packed with information. While you're walking around, you'll be taking stuff in and forming an opinion on the uni, the course and the surrounding area. Pretty quickly, those specifics will float away - so make sure you write down important points. Take a fully charged smartphone, too, so you can take pictures of the uni as you're walking around. It will all be really helpful when you come to recap.

Find out more and join the discussion on university open days at thestudentroom.co.uk.

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