University Open Days
So you’ve got a list of universities you might want to go to. Now it’s time to go have a peek around them. We can’t stress how important this is! You only have five choices on your UCAS form, so you don’t want to waste a choice on a university that you don’t want to go to. You shouldn’t just be relying on other people’s opinions or university league table rankings to inform your choice; you need to go and test the waters, get the feel of the university and sniff the sweet university air!
When are the university open days?
Universities run open days throughout the year, both full scale open days and smaller departmental ones. If you’ve missed all the open days, then contact the university and ask if you can arrange a private visit. Check out the AllAboutCareers Events page to find out the dates of open days at specific universities.
Before you go…
It’s impossible to go to every university open day in the UK, so you should decide what your priorities are (e.g. location, learning resources, accommodation) and try and find places that match these criteria.
Before you go to an open day, you need to read up on the university and draw up a list of questions you want to know about the institution and the course. You should check to see what talks, tours and events are happening during the open day (they might require pre-booking) and plan out a general itinerary. There’ll probably be open day programmes available on campus as well. If the university is far away, you can always book overnight accommodation at the university.
Location, location, location…
University open days are the best way to scope out the location. Do you want to go to a university that is bang in the city centre, a campus university, or one in a more rural setting? Do you like the area and does it look like a place you’d want to spend your next three years? You might want to check out the student union, see what societies are available and check out what the nightlife is like too.
What’s the right ‘course’ of action?
Without doubt you need to visit the faculty that runs your course. Find out if they are running introductory lectures on the open day. Hunt down a tutor from the department and ask them about the course and the teaching. There’ll probably be students helping out in the faculty so make sure you talk to them and ask what studying at the university is really like. Find out what learning resources are available in the university and have a look around the libraries (believe us, that’s where you’ll be spending most of your third year!).
It’s always best to have a look around the accommodation as well. Seek out one of the halls of residence and have a nosy round. They might just be showing their ‘showroom’ accommodation, so be sure to ask whether it is for first years and whether the other halls are similar. If the accommodation is catered, ask whether the grub’s up to scratch. You might also want to take a note of how far halls are from the main campus and what the transport links are like.
Take your time…
Really, you need to spend a day just hanging round the university. You could stay on a bit longer after the open day officially ends to get a sense of the university when it is not shrouded in open day chaos. After all, after weighing up your social and academic priorities, it’s often your own gut feeling that separates one university from the next.