How to prepare for university open days
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Your university open day is the first real look into an important part of your future.
Here you will get to see first-hand your potential new academic home for the next three or so years. It’s important you make the right choice. You need to prepare.
Of course you’ll have read online, seen cleverly crafted university videos, watched YouTube vlogs from current students or spoke to close friends and family who have experienced campus life at your first choice pick.
But open day is your chance to form your own opinion. To see the actual workings of your prospective university and course, in your own eyes.
Here’s how you can best prepare for your university open day.
1) Start to look early
All universities have different dates, times, access and information. If you have four lined up that you’d like to visit, you have to think logistically.
Get started as early as possible through your usual internet search methods and social media. University Facebook groups are a good place to start Facebook Group.
For most open days you will have to register details for yourself and the people who are coming with you.
2) Plan your travel
A lot of open days fall on a weekend. This means certain travel routes will be affected. Whether you are driving down or taking public transport, you need to plan your journey in advance.
For train travel, a lot of operators offer much cheaper tickets if you book way before your departure date. It’s worth checking the Trainline app, but also find out who takes care of your route. A lot of train companies offer their own discounts if you go direct.
If you aren’t able to travel by car and train is still too expensive, you can always check-out a U.K. coach provider. These days a coach journey through National Express or Megabus can be more comfortable than going by train – plus, you’re always guaranteed a seat!
3) Bring someone you trust
Your open day will be filled with excitement and intrigue. You need to bring someone with an unbiased, level-head to keep you in check.
Take your mum, dad or any other older guardian or neighbor. The wiser the better. They’ll help you think of questions or other thoughts you may not have picked up on with someone else who is around the same age as you.
It’s probably not ideal to bring an older sibling, cousin or friend who is either at the university or once studied there. You’re there to see if it’s right for you, not to see that alleyway your brother threw-up in during his freshers week bar crawl.
4) Explore the area
Although the actual university is the first thing on your mind, you have to remember you’ll be living in the place that comes with it.
Take the time to explore as much as you can. Think to yourself: can I see myself living here? Though your quality of study comes first, you are making a commitment. For the next few years your entire life will be centered around this one town or city.
You could even take a quick peek at your potential university halls. Some accommodation providers will host their own open days, too – and often these are on or around the same days as your university campus ones.
5) Prepare questions
This is your first time meeting course leaders and experienced lecturers. Today: you are interviewing them!
Find out as much as possible. Think of questions that Google wouldn’t normally answer. Get more personal – why should you be spending your £9500+ a year here? Your new potential tutors will be more than happy to share their thoughts and experiences.
You can also think outside of the lecture hall. Current student volunteers will be on-hand to guide you throughout the day. They will be more than happy to answer a few personal questions about their time at your prospective university.
6) Take notes and pictures
Document as much as possible. Pictures, notes, video. You could even produce a small vlog for yourself. You could then share that vlog with fellow applicants in your university freshers Facebook group.
It’s always good to look back on your thoughts and feelings once the information overload of the day has settled.
7) Things to consider
Have a feel for the atmosphere. Your gut will tell you a lot. A lot of universities will offer virtual open days, but, if possible, it’s always best to go there in person and take a look at all aspects of campus life.
Try not to be too influenced by outside opinion, but of course take everything in. Don’t make any definite decisions on the day. You can always refer back to your notes a few weeks down the line.
Remember: this is your chance to find out about your new home. Don’t leave the open day with more questions than answers.
8) Quick Tips
- Print or save the campus map on your phone.
- Parking can often be a nightmare on open day. Try the outskirts of your city to park your car all-day for free.
- If you’re planning on eating afterwards, make sure you book. Some smaller towns with bigger universities get busier during open days.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There will be a lot of walking!
- Get in touch with the university if you have any special requirements or disabilities so they can be prepared to accommodate you.
- This is your open day, not your parents’. You take the lead and ask the questions. Overeager mums and dads: try to keep a backseat role!
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