Summer. We associate it with good weather, barbeques and beach holidays, but for those of you wanting to apply for university next academic year, summer will soon be synonymous with open days.
When I was starting to think about applying to universities, open days were invaluable. Being able to get a sense of where you may be living and studying is really important, as you can therefore know if you would enjoy being in that place.
A really great benefit of open days is the talks, for both your subject and social life at the university. Some places even do talks for parents! The wonderful thing about these talks is that they will explain to you how the course works and really what it’s like to be a student at that particular university.
If you’re applying to the same course at several different places, the subject talks can help to highlight the subtle differences between courses. I personally found taking notes in these talks really helpful, as I could then look over them later and refresh my memory about the specifics of each course. In terms of the student life talks, it can be really good to go to these if you have time, just to get a sense of the support and activities offered by the university and their students’ union.
Most universities should also have a subject fair or something similar, where you can talk individually to students studying your course and some of the lectures who may teach you. For me, this was one of the most helpful parts of the open day. Being able to speak to people who really understand how the course works can clarify parts that were perhaps glossed over in the prospectus or subject talks. At these stalls, you’ll be able to find out the balance of exams to coursework for assessments, student experiences of the course and university life in general, and be able to ask any personal questions you may have to admissions staff and lecturers.
Don’t forget on open days to have a look at accommodation and eating facilities. For some people being able to self-cater would be an absolute dream/a complete nightmare, so make sure you know what facilities are available, so that you’re able to choose what you would prefer. Also, for some universities where the accommodation is off-campus, find out how long it would take you to get to campus, as that may be an important consideration as well.
Open days can be quite hectic, so make sure to book online to reserve your place (if that’s necessary), plan your day so that you’re able to do everything you want to, don’t forget to bag lots of free merch whilst you’re there and have a great time!