Why Go To A University Open Day?
Making a decision on which university to attend is not an easy one and should not be taken lightly.
Whether you're applying for an undergraduate or postgraduate course, it's a good idea to do plenty of research before you decide on which university will suit you best. The most effective way to do this is in person at one of the university's open days.
Why? Let's take a look at the main advantages.
1. Learn about the courses
You may already know which course you want to embark on and an open day can give you the opportunity to speak to the lecturers and gain more information on what the course offers.
If you are undecided which route to take, you can gain a better understanding on which is best suited to you and what you will achieve at the end of it.
Universities offer different courses, even for the same subjects, so find out exactly what you will be learning on each one, especially if you have a particular career path in mind.
Ask about the structure of the course: what are the compulsory components? Do they offer the optional units that are necessary for your career path?
2. Visit the department
If you're struggling to decide between two or more courses, then going to an open day can help give you some perspective, and if you’re really stuck you’ll able to visit multiple departments.
We recommend you sit through at least a couple of subject talks, where you should be able to narrow down your options by finding out more about the department’s teaching practice.
Questions to think about include:
- Does teaching incorporate enough of a practical element for you?
- What does this department aim to equip its graduates with?
- How is the course assessed?
- What’s the proportion of teaching time versus independent study?
Attending university is not just about choosing the right course to suit you, it is also important to find out about the facilities on offer to you.
These include the library, the student union and the halls of residence.
The open day is the ideal way to explore a range of universities and what they have to offer, so you know they are catering for you before you sign up.
The staff at the university will be more than happy to show you around the facilities at the open day so you can ask as many questions as you wish.
4. Local area
If you are intending on relocating to attend university, take the time to find out more about the local area.
An open day is the perfect way to do this, and if you have any concerns, raise them with the staff.
They can tell you about the main attractions of the town or city, such as the shops and nightlife, and therefore see whether this is the right place for you.
5. Chat to current students
Find out what it's like to study at a particular university straight from the horse's mouth!
By talking to students currently studying there, you can get an accurate firsthand account of university life.
See if you can find anyone who's taking the same course you're applying for and ask for their honest opinion about it.
6. Costs and funding opportunities
Although you already know how much the fees will cost, this is a chance to find out if there are any other costs associated with the course, such as field trips, workshops or conferences.
You can also ask about accommodation costs, and how much this is likely to mount up to during your 3 or 4 years there.
Ask if there are any scholarships, bursaries or other funding opportunities you can apply for to help ease the financial burden.
7. Meet other people
Attending university for the first time can be extremely daunting, especially if you don’t know anyone.
An open day gives you the chance to meet students and lecturers at the university so you will have a friendly face when you start for the first time.
You will also get the opportunity to meet people who are in the same boat as you, so you might even make some new friends before you even join.
8. See the accommodation
It’s likely that you’ll be moving away from home for your years at university, and may be living in halls in your first year.
Take advantage of the opportunity afforded on open days to have a look around the halls of residence. Make sure the universities you apply to house their students in a place that is acceptable to you.
A tour of the accommodation and a look at a university’s spending on facilties will give you an idea of how well they support their students.
Things to look out for include:
- How are the bathroom facilities?
- Is there a communal or seperate kitchen?
- Is it warm enough?
- Does it seem safe and secure?
- How far is it to get to campus for lectures?
9. Assess the student support services
Sometimes you might need a little extra help and support being away from home for the first time, so it's a good idea to see what services are offered at the university's welfare department.
Talk to the staff there and see if they seem friendly and approachable, and if they are aware of all the likely issues students might face during their studies.
10. Decide if its the right fit
If you're happy with the course, and the students and staff seem friendly, ask yourself: can you settle here for the next few years? Do you like the place? Is it somewhere you could settle into and enjoy? What appeals to you about the environment?
Only you can decide whether the university is the right fit for you, so don't let your parents push you toward it because they think it's a great uni, or your friends, who are all applying there too.
If you like what you see and feel comfortable, then it's probably going to be a good place for you to attend.
If you leave the open day with doubts or are not 100% certain about the place, then probably best to check in at some other university open days and find out what else is on offer.
While you may end up going to half a dozen or more open days, it's better to spend time shopping around than end up somewhere you don't like.
Go with your instincts, and hopefully you'll end up choosing to apply to the right universities for you.
For more tips and advice on applying for a postgraduate course, please see: