There is definitely a reason why we call our open days “experience days:” they are not only a time to visit the university that recently caught your eye, or to familiarize with the one you have always wanted to attend, but they are also an opportunity to get a feel for a community that might become your home for the next three years. If you've never been to an open day before, make sure to read the following tips on how to make the most of your day:
1. Research the university’s website
You’ve finally narrowed down your list of universities you would like to attend (well done!): now it’s time to start browsing through their websites and really get yourself acquainted with their programs. From rankings to pictures, student testimonials and undergraduate degrees, you’ll have to try to gather as much information as you can and start making comparisons among universities.
Your journey starts right here: scroll through the program that struck you in the first place; think of whether its modules suit your interests and then move to clubs and societies you might be interested in joining, as well as study abroad programs and accommodation options. Don’t overwhelm yourself in one day: give yourself some time to do the research beforehand!
2. Plan ahead
Now that you’ve done all the research, you might have a lot of burning questions popping in your head: as you write them down, make sure to take a look at the university’s map and find out the distance between each venue. Most universities send a detailed timetable to potential students a few days before the open day, highlighting all the events happening, including faculty talks, workshops and campus tours, as well as information on transport options. You might want to print out the timetable and keep it with you on the day so that you have a piece of paper to refer back to. You don’t want to miss that subject talk on the program you were interested in!
3. On the day
Put on your best student explorer mode and your most comfortable shoes: it’s time to walk around every corner of that photogenic campus that might soon become your second home. Once you get to campus, make sure you participate in all the talks and workshops that relate to your degree of choice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions (even awkward ones!): we have all been there! While you are following the tours and learning about buildings on campus and accommodation options, try to absorb the atmosphere around you and get a student’s perspective on favourite study spots, professors and societies. They will be able to give you a more personal and honest opinion on a course they enjoy, share tips on how to pick the accommodation that suits you the most and how to make the most of your first week. Everyone is there to help you and wants you have the best campus experience!
4. Have fun!
You’re enjoying all the subject talks but you would also like to take a break and get to know some of the other potential students? Most universities set up a lot of activities including photo booths, group games and sports workshops to engage you and make your experience more entertaining, so get out of your comfort zone and explore all your options! At lunch, make time for a break with your family members or new friends you have made in the morning.
5. Ask yourself if it feels right?
Picture yourself in the middle of campus, sipping a cup of tea, and think about whether you see yourself among the students around you. Is it a positive feeling? Or do you feel rather out of place? While you are taking it all in, bear in mind the size of the university: a campus that counts between 1,000 and 5,000 students might be exactly what you're looking for, whereas finding your way among 30,000 students might discourage you. That’s why attending an open day is extremely important while you are in the process of choosing a university: it allows you to really immerse yourself into the community and take a look at campus life much closely.
6. Gather your thoughts when you go back home
When you get back home, you may feel a little bit overwhelmed from the day: take a moment to gather your thoughts and collect the most relevant information you learned from staff, professors and student ambassadors. Once you have wrapped your head around key points, think of what makes each one of your favourite universities stand out.
If you don’t know where to start from, it might be worth comparing academic programs and teaching styles, while reading about student testimonials, and then moving to the program’s specific modules. If you forgot to ask something, don’t worry! Remember that staff members will always be available to answer any of your questions!
Choosing the right university is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, but also one of the most exciting. As you are scrolling through the website of what seems to be the perfect university while trying to figure out the degree that suits you the most and getting mentally ready for the big step, always keep in mind that planning and preparing ahead of time make up a big part of the process. Luckily, you still have a few months to go before the autumn term, but it’s definitely good to know what to expect in advance, and the best way to have for you to give your questions a proper answer is by attending an oepn day. Best of luck!