Going to university is a big commitment, both of your time and financially. It is, therefore, important to make the most informed decision possible and the best method of gathering that information is an open day.
Attending an open day is as much your chance to find out more about life on campus and living in the local area as it is to do with the course, potential tutors and classmates. But, what are the important things to consider to help you get the most out of your visits? Firstly, the course is the primary reason for you attending university, so the proportion of time you spend asking questions about it should be weighted appropriately.
You will need to work out your visits in advance, so make sure you know which universities are opening. Useful tools are websites such as opendays.com or the UCAS website. You will also need to get hold of a campus map – most websites will have a PDF version to download to your phone.
Work out a schedule for the weeks or months ahead and, when planning each visit, don’t forget to find out about the events and presentations going on around campus and book on if needed – it’s likely the popular ones will fill up fast!
Don’t forget to plan your journey so that you’re not flustered, or late arriving to the open day, if travelling by train, prebook your tickets. If you’re driving, research parking on campus or nearby to save time on the day.
Work out how you will score each university. If you are torn between similar courses it is important that you judge each establishment on the same criteria and draw up a fair scoring system to better aid your decision. Take notes and photos (especially of things like accommodation and key study areas like the library) during the open day to help record as much information as possible and to refer back to after the day. Input and advice from parents is important, but don’t take a back seat to their questioning – see below for tips and advice on that.
It’s also important to see where the university is in relation to the town or city; is it somewhere you’d like to live for a minimum of 3 years? If you have time, get a feel for the area by having a walk around outside of the main campus.
Think well in-advance about the questions you want to ask of staff and other students. There will be a large number of them there to ensure that the day runs well, so take advantage of this to get a wide variety of insights. The Uni Guide have an excellent selection of questions that can help form part of your investigations.
If you require extra assistance for your visit make sure to contact the university prior to the open day and they can help make your day as easy as possible. You can download or print this handy UCAS guide before you go and take a look at a list of questions here.