St Mary’s University, Twickenham, has made a list of some handy tips and things to bear in mind when attending open days. For many, the process of attending open days can be slightly overwhelming. Here are ten top tips for you to keep in mind so that you can get the most of university open days that you attend!
1. Arrive with plenty of time to spare
An important thing to keep in mind when attending any Open Day is the timing. Ensure that you arrive at the original time stated, or even a little bit before then so you can find out where you’re supposed to be. There will be a multitude of activities for you to take part in to find out more about the University and your course, so it’s good to arrive with plenty of time to fit them in. With that in mind, make sure you check train times, parking options and how long it will take in total beforehand, so you don’t have to worry about it on the day.
2. Prepare some important questions to ask
The night before an open day, start thinking about some questions you might want to ask the staff and students of the university. You may find it beneficial to do a small sum of research on the university itself, in order to find out if there are any specific parts of the University you want to see. This way, you will arrive at the open day prepared and ready to get the most out of it. You’ll be investing a lot of money into your degree, so it’s important to get any pressing questions answered before you start your academic career, especially if you’re taking out a student loan.
3. Go with somebody who knows you
Attending an open day, especially in a new place that you haven’t been to before, can be quite daunting. That’s why some find it quite useful to have someone who knows them to attend alongside them, for example a friend, parent, or family member. Having someone with you may give you the confidence to ask questions and be yourself. The bonus of bringing someone else along, is that you get a valuable second opinion on the university, from the perspective of someone that knows you. They could be the one to ask the tough questions, and make you think about whether or not you will enjoy your time at that university.
4. Learn about your chosen course – Programme Talks
The most important reason for attending university, is to study a course that you know you will enjoy, and dedicate your time to for three or more years! A vital aspect of attending open days is finding out the key features of your course at that university, as these features may vary across different universities. Most universities will offer what is called a Programme Talk, which gives you a chance to find out about all the key features of your chosen course. This includes the lecturers, contact hours, modules studied, and assessment methods. All of these aspects are extremely important, and can make or break the course you choose to study.
5. Find out where you might be living – Accommodation Tours
Another important factor of attending university is where you will be living for the years that you study there. It is known that in your first year, its common practice to stay in Halls of Residence. Some students may want to stay in halls of residence throughout their studies, where as some may want to embark on renting a house with a group of people. In most cases, students will spend a year of their studies in halls of residence, therefore it’s important to see what kind of living environment you will potentially be kicking of your university experience in.
6. Explore the campus and surroundings – Campus Tours
The main selling point for many who attend open days, is the campus, facilities and surroundings. Luckily, many universities organise campus tours at their open days, so that you get a chance to see all of those things. It’s important to look out for little things that will make your university experience easier, are there good public transport links? Are there places to grab a coffee during a long shift in the library? Is there a good security and support team available at the university in case you have any issues? These are the kind of things that you will find out about the university on a campus tour, in order to find out if you can see yourself as a student on that campus!
7. Explore the support options
Being at university, studying a subject at a higher level, and trying to multi-task your life around your studies can really take its toll on students. That’s why it’s important to seek out the support options available at the university you’re visiting. This is also key if you have any learning difficulties or disabilities that you may need academic support with. The support team at your chosen university are there to help make your life easier so that you can do your best and graduate.
8. Collect the freebies!
Something to note is that most open days will have a lot of freebies. These could be in the form of food, sweets, leaflets, prospectuses, stationary and much more! Don’t feel guilty about taking what the university is offering, after all, these freebies are your reminders of the university. Prospectuses and leaflets are items that you may want to use to reflect back on the day when deciding whether or not to study there.
9. Don’t be afraid to speak to the staff/student ambassadors
One way of getting your questions answered, as well as hearing about the university experience is by speaking to the staff and students from the university. At open days, they should be fairly obviously to spot. It’s likely that student ambassadors will be delivering your campus and accommodation tours, and will welcome any questions or queries. The staff may be present at the open day, and could be delivering your programme talks, so any time before or after may be a convenient period to ask any burning questions. Student ambassadors and staff will be more than happy to help, and are there to enhance your open day experience.
10. Enjoy it!
The ultimate goal at any open day is for the prospective students to enjoy themselves, and learn more about the university. A lot of organisation, preparation and thought go in to university open days, in the hopes that those who attend enjoy them! Attend with an open mind, and you’ll be surprised how much you could learn about that university, including whether or not it is the right place for you. Have fun, enjoy yourself, and find out what that university has to offer!