28th June 2017
Many Year 12 students are currently thinking about what to do with their future, is it university or maybe an apprenticeship?
Perhaps your interested in taking a year off to travel, or gain more money? If you’re still unsure about going to university, a great way to find out more would be by attending an open day. You can then ask all the questions and concerns you have on applying for university (that’s their main point after all)!
So if you’re traveling that far to visit a university you probably want to make the most of it, so in this blog post I’ll be giving you a few tips; from planning, to what to bring and how to approach the lecturers.
The first and (probably) the most vital thing to do before going to an open day is planning. The best way I have found to do this is by using the university’s website. This is because when you are applying to attend the open day they have a list of talks, tours and open space areas where you can talk to lecturers. They will probably supply a map too so you can find out where these events are happening in the campus, but don’t worry because there will always be helpful student ambassadors to help guide you, if you end up lost (like I have multiple times)! Often there is a huge variety of talks, so I think it is important to prioritise the course that you are most interested in (if you’re still unsure, use the university’s website to research the course, details about the modules and if it has any work experience or trips to offer). Most big universities offer two time sets for course talks, so don’t worry if after all the research you’ve done you still haven’t found the perfect course (that’s what the open day is there to help you for)!
Pack a survival kit
So you’ve now booked and you’ve planned your day. Second question you might be thinking is, what to bring? I would definitely recommend bringing a notebook and a pen to make notes during the talks and for any questions you want to ask the lecturers. This will come in handy when writing your personal statement, as you can make it personal for the course as well as showing your enthusiasm as you attended open days. It also gets hot (feels like a sauna if you ask me!) in certain places in the university due to the amount of people there on the day. So it’s probably a good idea to bring a water bottle to keep hydrated. Sometimes the day can be so busy it’s hard to take time to rest and eat so perhaps also a good idea to take a snack. Sometimes the university will provide you with free snacks or drinks too.
Somebody else would want to ask the same question, they just didn't have the confidence
Quiz the Lecturers
If I can offer you one piece of advice, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the lecturers being there on the day. Ask them all the questions you can think of, even if you think it might be irrelevant or silly. Remember the cliché line, somebody else would want to ask the same question, they just didn’t have the confidence. It’s a good idea to ask questions on a variety of topics relating to university life and beyond. Some questions that you could possibly ask include:
- How many hours a week will I be in timetabled teaching and what days will these be on?
- Can you recommend any activities or skills for me to gain so that I can improve my personal statement?
- What are the employability rates like?
You'll be living in the city for 3 years, so you definitely want to gain a feel for the place before moving there!
As you have travelled to the university I would 100% recommend spending an hour or so exploring the city, perhaps by visiting the local shopping area or grabbing a meal in a local restaurant off site? I think this is vital as if you do end up going to the university, you’ll be living in the city for at least 3 years so you definitely want to gain a feel for the place before moving there!
It’s worth taking time to plan for the day, from planning the talks and events occurring on the day to making a list of questions ready to ask the student ambassadors and of course the lectures! I think the most important thing to do on an open day is to ask yourself the question: can I imagine myself here? And of course have fun, these days are supposed to be a fun learning experience not a stressful one!
Think about the facilities
So whilst you’re at the university campus it might be a good idea to check out the facilities that the university offers. This could be from the specific equipment offered on the course, for example cameras for film production, or more general academic facilities like the library or living facilities like accommodations and food outlets (if you’re going to those 9am lectures the food offered on site and on campus accommodation is going to be important to you). When looking at academic facilities, especially for subjects where the equipment used is important e.g film production, it is a good idea asking how much money in recent years has been spent on funding the equipment. In other words, are they using up to date equipment and technologies?