At University with a Disability

Undergraduate Open Days Advice

I have my own University stories to share with you as my readers but lets start with sharing my own experiences on my undergraduate open days. 

My Undergraduate Open Day Experience 2014

My Undergraduate Open Day Experience 2016

First things first; well done for sticking to your decision to go to University. It is a big step to attend an open day but it is exciting too. You, as a student, get to visit your chosen Universities, the campus and the surrounding cities. I would compare it to window shopping. Spend time looking around, getting a feel for the location and the campus, and see yourself as a prospective student and enjoy what the University has to offer you. You may think you know all you need to know by viewing and reading about it online, but trust me, the experience is completely different in person. There is nothing better than experiencing the ethos for yourself.     

Now, you will know what Universities and courses you want to look at and some that you aren’t quite sure about yet. Use the open days to help you figure things out, just be mindful of the amount of time you have before you have to start your application. Everything works on tight deadlines. Before you are to go to the University’s open days, make a note of their dates and check it against other universities. You will need a whole day to look at everything properly and pass full judgement; you cannot rush a decision such as this. It is also important to know all of the dates of the open days because Universities have a tendency to purposefully organise open days on the same day as their fellow Alumni. Check regularly as you may need to cancel attendance at one University to book on another with the same date and then book again at the first University.     

You will need to register with the University to attend each of the open days you are interested in; of course, it depends on the University but registering should be clear and easy. Name, age, address, email, faculty and course.  You will then receive a confirmation email of your attendance that you will need to take with you on the day. Then, on the days prior to the open day, you will receive further emails containing important information of everything you should know: travel, campus and possible itinerary for the day. I can’t specify too much on the information you will receive as it is course and University dependent but ensure you read everything through before you go. 

On each of the open days you attend, try not to get too overwhelmed with everything that takes place; enjoy the day and get a real feel for the University, the campus, the facilities and everything else that may be there. I agree that there is a lot to take in, but try not to overfill your day with talks and tours. Instead, look at the itinerary given to you and try to schedule a mix of activities and tours taking place during the open day, course lectures, taster sessions, campus and accommodation tours, student union and student life talks given by students; whatever it may be, it’s exciting to get involved. Manage your time effectively and get a feel for everything that goes on as it is so much you can experience outside of the classroom. I would also explore the city as this may affect your choice and you can see what the city has to offer. I would recommend possibly trying to go to a University open day more than once as there won’t be enough time to do everything in one day and it may help you with your decision.  

I would suggest that you make brief notes throughout the open day on everything you see at the individual Universities and then this can jog your memory to compare information at a later date. Also, I would make note of any contact details of tutors, the finance team or the student union in case you forget or want to follow anything up after the day. Making a note of contact details might seem trivial but trust me, it’s useful. You may get a more prompt response, one that is much more reliable than a generic, automated email you may get otherwise. It shouldn’t take three to five working days (or worse) to get a response either!

Do you have a disability? 

If you have a disability and plan to attend a University(s) open day, then don’t threaten. As you book on the open days, it will allow you to tick the box saying you have a disability and ask you to state the disability you have. Routine; this way they can tailor the information they send you and they are priorly aware for the open day itself. 

Otherwise, try and enjoy the experience as well as you can. Plan and structure your open day with your itinerary and be mindful of the access, facilities and attitudes in, and around campus and the surrounding city. Either before you go to the open day or on the open day, make an appointment with the disability team.  Every disability and every person with a disability is different and it is best to be honest about any difficulty you may have while studying and speak to them at length. I am sure they have heard it all before. It will open dialogue between everyone:  the disability team, your potential course team and yourself. You may think that it is the campus or facilities that will give you difficulties and stop you from attending the University, but be wary of the course and its entitlements. 

I would read the course outline thoroughly and be honest with your course team about what your needs are and how it may make certain areas difficult to complete. Make sure you talk to them;  there may be items or practical elements that are involved in the course, like trips or excursions that may restrict you for whatever reason. It may not necessarily be mentioned on the course outline that you will need to know in time to study. The tutors may suggest ways to overcome it or encourage you that they have previously had a student with a disability on the course and you can creatively find alternatives. But if they don’t or their attitudes are less than forthcoming, then the course isn’t worth it.

If you have a disability and are contemplating staying in student halls, there should be adapted accommodation available for you owned by the University. Read my Undergraduate Adapted Accommodation Advice post for advice.

Take a deep breath and enjoy it!


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