Open days are both enjoyable and intimidating, but they are the best way to get a feel of a particular university. Sure many people apply to university without actually visiting it in person, but you will be better prepared and understand things a lot more by making a personal appearance. You have five choices to make on UCAS, so it is a good idea to have at least visited all your UCAS options at some point.
The truth is you often get a gut feeling about a university the minute you get off the bus or out of the car (or demount from your unicycle)! It is very unscientific but sometimes “you know when you know” if you like a particular place. I remember one university (which will remain nameless) gave me chills the minute I arrived and the Open Day did not improve my feelings towards it. On paper this uni seemed really good but on visiting I hated it!
Here is what you need to know to become a master at open days safe in the knowledge that you’ll make the right choice:
1. Know what is going on and when.
Most universities will provide you with a programme of events either before you arrive or on the actual day. It is best to know what is going on and where because your journey will seem wasted if you miss a talk that you are interested in. So plan. Find a map and make sure you see all that you want to see before leaving.
2. Talk to current students and staff
Open days will be awash with current students (often in brightly coloured shirts so that they are easily noticeable), if you have a question ask them. They are the only people who can give you an honest answer as to what it is like to be a student… also they know the campus quite well so they can help if you are lost.
Academic staff should be about as well. They are the people who can tell you more about your course, module choices, what you need to do to get on the course and how you can make your application stand out. They’re not scary people and can often make you feel more at ease.
3. Sounds silly, but ask questions
Open days are your chance to ask all those questions that are burning inside of you. Never walk away from a university with questions still lingering and never assume that all universities are the same – they are all unique and therefore they all do things differently.
You could ask questions about the course, nightlife, accommodation, campus facilities, the local area, public transport, laundry… the list is endless.
4. Go on tours
Most universities will run tours throughout the day and this is the perfect opportunity to explore the uni in more depth, see the main sites and facilities and hopefully see the accommodation.
You’ll want to know what is about as this could be your home for the next three or four years!
5. Enjoy yourself
Don’t take it too seriously. You’ll want to enjoy the day as well so set aside time to explore and have fun- most universities put on entertainment or interesting events during open days so seize them and have fun!
At Essex you can get free hot drinks and 10% off food and in the past they’ve had aqua zorbing and trampoline bungee jumping…not that I’m not biased about which university you should choose!