University is, for many people, one of the most exciting, engrossing and invigorating times of their lives, so making sure that you’ve picked the best university and most useful course possible is incredibly important.
If you’re in the dark concerning university open days – an ideal opportunity to learn more about your chosen institution and course – don’t despair; here’s everything you need to know about these incredibly interesting voyages of discovery!
Before you arrive
Whichever course or institution you’re aiming for, research is the name of the game in the run-up to attending an open day. Remember that this is the city and university that you’ll be dedicating a fair few years of your life to, and more importantly, this choice could dictate what both your career and personal goals could be in the years that follow.
Assuming you know what you’d like to study and where, take your shortlist and find out when their open days are taking place. Opendays.com is a very useful resource during this stage, highlighting all of the open days across the UK in an easy to digest, day-by-day format.
Next, think about the questions you’d like to have answered. What qualifications and grades are required? What is campus life like? What should you include in your application and personal statement? Are applicants interviewed? What sorts of skills and opportunities does the course offer students? Job fairs, guidance, career prospects, workloads – take a look at this Which? guide for ideas if you’re stuck for questions to ask. The more you know, the more informed your eventual choice will be.
Finally, head to the university’s website and download a site map, printing out directions depending on your means of transport – you could be kicking yourself on the day otherwise!
On the day
When you’ve arrived at the open day, say hello to the student reps on site then sit down and read through the resources handed to you, taking note of all of the important meetings, talks, lectures and departments you’d like attend. If you’ve got a spare ten minutes, take a walk around the campus and experience the surroundings, getting a feel for the site and atmosphere.
Next, visit all of the interesting things going on that relate to both your course and the university in general. There are often guided tours around the campus – take the opportunity to see everything and meet everyone that you possibly can, asking the reps, tutors and lecturers you meet any questions you might have.
Accommodation is also a significant thing to bear in mind when selecting a university. If you’re going to be living in the university’s own accommodation, have a look through all of the options available to you, once again asking many questions to prepare against the possibility of unwelcome discoveries in fresher’s week. Bear in mind that some universities have separate course and accommodation open days, so always check their website.
Seize the day and use every opportunity possible to get better acquainted with the institution. This sort of exhaustive approach will help you choose and has the additional benefit of honing your research skills – a very important skill on campus!
When you’ve been to all of the universities you’ve earmarked and the dust has settled, sit down and take stock of everything you’ve learnt. Think about what you want from your studies, experience and future, comparing and contrasting the options available to you. Order your choices by preference using these metrics and hopefully you’ll come out with a winner.
Work hard, stay focused, and you’ll be enjoying the uni lifestyle before you know it!