Choosing your university is a big decision – you are going to be spending three, possibly four (or more!) years there.
There are lots of things to consider when researching your university options. How far is the campus from the town or city? Where will my lectures be held? What are my course facilities like? Is it easy to get home by public transport?
Attending an open day is the best way to get answers to those important questions.
Most universities deliver open days throughout the year, offering you lots of opportunities to attend. You’ll find dates advertised on their websites, so check out which dates work best and book your place. If you need to trek about to a few different universities, can you tick a couple off your list in one go?
Prebook train or bus journeys to avoid paying over the odds and check if the train/bus station is within walking distance of the university campus.
If you’re travelling by car, can you park at or close to the campus? If you need disabled parking, contact the university beforehand to arrange this.
Prepare a checklist of everything you want to see and everything you need to ask. It’s easy to get swept up in the atmosphere of the day and leave without getting your questions answered – having a checklist will keep you on track. Here’s one we prepared earlier.
Keep an eye on your inbox for your open day guide, which will detail the open day timetable. Some guides might include info on what talks are running and when which is a massive help when planning what you can fit into your day.
Do you need to prebook any campus, facilities or accommodation tours? Some universities ask you to book beforehand, others ask you to book on the day.
If you’re tight on time, what are your priorities? University websites and prospectuses are a great source of information so use the open day to get the dealbreaker info.
On the day
Subject talks are a great way to find out more about the course(s) you’re interested in with academic staff on hand to answer questions afterwards (or before for those eager beavers!). Don’t be afraid to whip out your pen and make notes on the important bits.
As well as speaking to academic staff, chat with students. They can give you a real insight into what it’s like to study at university. Pick their brains about accommodation, facilities such as the library or gym, or the activities on offer in the Students’ Union. They were in your shoes not too long ago so will be happy to answer your questions.
Have a look around the local area if you have time – see if you can imagine yourself living there. What’s going on that’s of interest to you? Do you enjoy live music or visiting a comedy club? Are you an outdoorsy person who hikes or takes part in water sports? These are the things that are really going to enhance your student experience.
Every university, course and campus is different. Open days are the best way to inform what you want from your university experience and to help you be confident in making your final decisions.
By Kate Nelson.