Ah Open Days – an exciting time for any prospective student. I remember when I was an excitable teen taking trains across the country, swimming in free pens and comparing the complimentary buffets provided by different uni’s. Not only is an open day an exciting time and a great excuse to travel, but they’re also the best way for you to make a well-informed decision on which course and uni is best for you. This decision could be the biggest you ever make, so make sure you make the most of your open days by following this advice.
Planning and preparation – most universities will release a timetable of events taking place throughout the day, so make sure you read this and come up with an itinerary that best suits your interests. Usually there’s loads of stuff going on, so get an in-depth insight of studying and living at the uni by attending a couple of subject talks, a campus tour and a finance talk. Give yourself some time to explore the city and student accommodation too – you’re going to be living there for at least three years as well as studying! Try to imagine the campus on a wet day in February – everywhere looks good in the sun and in prospectuses.
Getting a map in advance of the day too will let you see if these events will take place close to each other, or if you’ll need a good chunk of time to get between venues. This will also be essential if you need to find the university when driving or getting a train in. Many larger universities run shuttles to the different campuses and sometimes even to the train and coach stations.
Come up with your own list of questions you want answered to help your decision-making. Feel free to pick the brains of the academic staff to help you learn about the courses and styles of learning – but remember some of them might have their own agenda when answering you! Also they might have a narrow view of just the particular module they teach.
Alternatively, the student ambassadors assisting in various events will be a great way to find more objective views from a student’s perspective, such as how much they enjoy the courses, what life’s like at the uni, and tips for picking accommodation (shout out to UoM Campus Tours team! #PurpleAndProud). It’s definitely worth asking as many people as you can for their opinions as everyone has different tastes and experiences.
Good things to know include:
- How many hours a week will I probably be working?
- How many contact hours are there?
- How big are the classes?
- What opportunities are there for you to broaden and deepen your understanding of the subject?
- Are there industrial/research placements or study abroad on offer? Where are they and how are they organised?
- How are you assessed?
- Is there much to do around campus? Societies, Students’ Union events, sports etc…
- What accommodation suits you best? Which are the party residences and which are quieter?
- Do I prefer a bustling city uni or a more relaxed campus-based/small town one?
To wrap up then, remember to make a plan, ask looooads of questions, see as much as you can, and have fun. Good luck with your decision-making!