Attending Open Days is the best way to determine which universities you want to apply for, and which university you want to go to. It’s one of the most important choices you’ll make, as life at university has the potential to shape the rest of your life. Whilst there’s so much information online nowadays, you can’t beat exploring the universities to get a real feel for the place. Here are some tips on how to get the most from what Open Days have to offer:
Plan your day
This might seem obvious, but Open Days can creep up on you before you know it and you’re off exploring campuses with no plan of action. To get the most from your day it’s important to plan ahead. You can usually find information on the university website about Open Days and what’s on offer, or alternatively you might receive information in the post. Make sure you plan for any talks, drop-ins, and tours you’d like to attend. Keep an eye out for the accommodation tours, the talks and drop-ins for the course(s) you’re considering, and the welcome talks that offer a general overview of university life on the campus you’re at.
Have a thorough look around
Whilst league tables and the quality of teaching play a big part in choosing a university, I remember attending Open Days and student ambassadors would say: “I just knew this was the university for me because of the feeling I got when I walked around campus”. Getting a feel for the place is so important. After all, it’s going to be where you spend most of your life for at least the next three years. You have to feel comfortable.
And on that note, if you have time, it’s always a good idea to have a look around the city itself outside of the university campus. If you don’t live nearby and you’re staying in the area for the full weekend, you could spend one day at the Open Day and the other day exploring its surroundings and city centre if time permits. It’s important you feel good in the university itself, but also in the city you’ll call home for the next few years.
Ask lots of questions
One of the best ways to get a feel for the university, besides looking around, is by asking lots of questions. Student ambassadors are great sources of information because they’ve been in your shoes and have experienced what’s yet to come for you. I remember learning a lot from the Student Ambassadors at Manchester on things like finding internships and getting involved in societies. There are so many aspects to university life that not all the talks and tours you attend will cover, so if you’re curious to find out more or you have any other questions, make sure you ask!
Give yourself some goals
Before you head off to the Open Day, make sure you have given yourself some objectives. In other words, make sure you know what you want to find out. For instance, you might tell yourself that you want to see the accommodation, ask about a certain society based on your interests, and feel closer to deciding which course you want to do. Having these in mind will shape the questions you ask and the talks and tours you attend. Make sure you’ve done everything you wanted to do before you leave. If you’re halfway through the day and there’s still things left to find out/do, shape the rest of your day to get everything covered.
Don’t feel overwhelmed!
Remember every student, and even every lecturer, was in your shoes at some point. It’s a big jump to university, and I remember that I found the campuses overwhelming compared to school and college. I couldn’t believe how many different streets and buildings there were! But you soon get used to your surroundings and you settle in quicker than you think. Try to think positively about the transition and get excited for the new experience!