Tuesday, 2 January 2018

How to make the most of university open days

I know what you're thinking: I don't even know what course I want to do, let alone which university I want to go to! At least that's pretty much what me and a lot of my friends were thinking once our sixth form began telling us about open days. But believe me, these visits are for so much more than seeing university buildings and campuses. Here's how to make the most of uni open days, no matter how much you know about your future:

Ok so I know I just claimed that open days are about much more than visiting campus (and that's true!), but this element is still important. For a lot of people, this is the place they're going to live for at least a year! So make sure you have a walk around, check out the accommodation and see what the campus has to offer. If it's a city university you're visiting, then take a look around the city itself to make sure it's somewhere you'll enjoy being (this can be helpful for campus universities too!). Even if you're staying at home or in private accommodation, you'll most likely be spending a lot of time on campus anyway, so still take a look. Most open days will provide maps of the campus/city so use these to prioritise the places that are important to you. So for me, a complete English geek, the library was top of my list, closely followed by the Students' Union, mostly because I wanted to make sure I went to a university with a Harry Potter society...

Now for the actual EDUCATION. This is what you're paying for, so you want to make sure you're learning about what you're going to enjoy most in a way that suits you. If you already know what you'd like to study, great! Prepare some questions to ask the subject lecturers and current students so you can learn about exactly what their university's course consists of as it might differ from others. Get all the information you can so you can make an educated decision and don't be afraid to talk to people from other subjects and courses if they look interesting - you still have time to change your mind! And if you don't know what you want to study...do exactly the same thing. Talk to as many people as possible and go to talks about subjects you haven't yet considered. This is how one of my best friend's found her perfect course - she didn't even know it existed until that open day!

Finally, find out what other opportunities are available. A lot of open days will have some sort of area with stands that aren't subject specific just to tell you what else the uni offers. For example, do you want to study for a term/year abroad? Maybe get a job on campus? Or volunteer? Or play a sport competitively? Or maybe just for fun? Speak to staff that know the answers to these questions. Sometimes these extra opportunities are enough to sway you towards a certain university in the future.

So that's it! Whether you have an idea about what course you want to do or not, visiting some universities can often help you decide, as well as helping you choose where you might like to apply later on. Long story short: open days are your friends. Happy visiting!

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