Visiting Universities on open days can be exciting as you look at your options. You may already have all these ideas and plans ahead of attending University open days and that’s good, but take a breath and concentrate on each step. I hope my advice will help you too.
Read my own thoughts on preparing for a series of undergraduate open days…
Preparing for a Series of Undergraduate Open Days 2014
Friends and family may have made suggestions to you as to which University to study at and which city to study in. You may have your own list of the Universities and cities that have caught your eye and that is great. It is important to have a place to start but do not rush any decision and limit yourself to this list you have made, ais an opportunity to branch out and see what other Universities and cities there are. This can be found via the UCAS website.
I describe it as window shopping as you research and then attending the open days themselves. Looking into these open days is as much about expanding your options as it is about knowing your choices. I would just make sure that you look into each course in detail and the University’s reputation and ranking before you attend the open day. I would advise you to definitely attend the open day if you think that you may go, as there is only so much you can see via the website.
You should now have a small handful of University open days that you would like to attend, the next thing to do is to view the dates of the open days and write them down in your calendar or diary. Usually, universities offer open days over a period of a few months so you should be able to have the dates set in advance, and though sometimes the open days do clash with one another, just be aware of it and to space out the open days over time. It will help you in the long run to digest all the new information given to you on that day before seeing another University. I would recommend going within a week or so that everything is fresh in your mind.
The next step is to book the open days themselves. The form is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, with specific questions to any extra needs and support you may need on the day. Make sure you give them accurate information on your booking as you also get a number of PDFs and useful documents sent to you via email for you to use to help you plan and use on the day itself. I would then suggest making a checklist of what you are looking for at the University, the city and the overall student experience. I can’t advise you exactly what to put on your checklist because most of it should be tailored to you and what you want to find out and get out of your University experience but a start to your list could be…
- Course or courses
- Tutors and their manor
- Student Satisfaction
- Access and Support
- Location of University
- Commuting or living in student accommodation
- Experiences and opportunities at the University
- Anything else?
I would most definitely advise you to take some form of a checklist with you on the open day because it is a long day. It is hard to remember so much of one particular day and it will keep you from panicking when you can’t remember everything.
Use the information you receive from your booking to help you plan out your day. I would plan out your day as normally as possible, completing a mental walkthrough from getting up, to transport, getting to the University campus, attending talks and tours at the University, viewing accommodation and more. I would try and get in as much as you can before you leave the University campus. Try and be as realistic as possible, managing your time, as it will give you a clear idea of how it would be if you chose to study at the University. One aspect to be cautious of is the duration of travel between your home and the University campus, as this may influence your decision to whether you commute or live in student accommodation while you study.
To my readers who may have a disability, as part of filling out your details to book a slot on the open day, the form will ask you if you have a type of disability and what type of disability it is. It’s important to be accurate and detailed, as it can help you get the most out of the day. Unfortunately, a lot of the information you will receive via email ahead of the open day is very generic as opposed to specific, so I would take your time with the given information and consider different things you may need to know before going around the campus. Things like where different facilities are and how you are able to go from classroom to classroom for each course, and student life talks that will happen. Be aware of where the lifts are on campus if you require one, and the access around campus for when you tour different buildings on the open day.
Then I would get the contact details of particular departments at the different universities and arrange meetings with them prior to the open day. These meetings may be with the disability and inclusion department or to view a certain type of accommodation with the correct facilities if you are thinking about living on campus. It is vital that you get a clear picture of the university and its campus on the open day and it should help you feel more in control when it comes to you making your decision.
Try to make the most out of your day and do as much pre-planning as you think is necessary, as it doesn’t hurt to prepare. There will be a lot going on during the day and you want to make sure that you go to all of the talks, tours and events you want to before coming away again.
Read my advice on what to do when visiting a University on an undergraduate open day.
If you are a potential student who is using UCAS for the first time, you may find my friend’s post on UCAS useful…
A Guide to Choosing a University using UCAS – Little Sea Bear
Picking a University is a daunting and scary task. Most students will only be 17, so for many, it will be the first time choosing something this big. I’m not going to lie. It is best if you start this in your first year of college or sixth form. […] via A Guide to Choosing a University using UCAS — Little Sea Bear