With the open day season approaching, you’re probably heading to quite a few campuses over the coming weeks. If you’re wondering where to start or what you need to know, we’ve come up with some tips to help you get the most out of university open days.
Step 1: Start by doing some research
Open days are your chance to find out more about a university and see if it’s right for you, so it helps to have done a little bit of research beforehand. Read about each university, have a quick look at courses of interest and decide what you want more information about when you’re on campus. Try to arrive on campus with at least a few questions.
Step 2: Plan your open day schedule
Find out which institutions are holding open days and when, then head to their websites to see what’s on. This will give you an idea of the events you want to attend and how you should structure your day — this is particularly important if you’re visiting a few different campuses in the same weekend. Expect to find everything from campus tours and lectures to general information sessions covering topics such as alternative entry pathways, scholarships and student accommodation. There’s fun to be had too, so keep an eye out for games and competitions, free barbecues and student performances. Some universities have special open day apps that can help you plan your day and navigate your way around once you’re on campus.
Step 3: Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to bombard lecturers or tutors with questions. Look out for current students too — they might be able to answer some of the questions that faculty staff can’t. If you have a course in mind, try to get an idea of the content that will be covered, how it will be taught and how you’ll be assessed. Also ask about opportunities to enhance your degree. Is work experience an option? Will you get the chance to study abroad? Are double degrees available? Remember that each course and institution has its own perks, so it’s up to you to decide what’s important. And keep in mind that it’s not all about study, so don’t forget to ask about some of the non-academic activities available on campus.
Step 4: Check out the location, facilities and services
Campus location, facilities and services can make or break your experience. Be sure to explore each campus to make sure it has what you need — whether it’s easy access by public transport, places to eat lunch nearby or quality sporting grounds on campus. You may also be interested in particular support services, such as academic assistance, career advisers or an on-site medical centre. Keep in mind that some universities have better facilities and services than others. Consider the overall location of each campus too. Are you more comfortable studying in the suburbs, in the centre of the city, in a regional area or close to the beach?
Step 5: Follow up with further research
You’ve been to open days, collected information, asked questions and checked out the facilities and services on campus. This is the ideal time to follow up with some extra research. Start by creating a shortlist of institutions and courses that caught your eye. Think carefully about what you want to study, how you want to learn and where you want to do it. You can call the institution to speak to a student adviser, drop by the campus or get in touch online. Consider visiting your career adviser (if you’re in school) and having a chat to friends, family or industry professionals. Once you’ve covered this step, you’ll be ready for the application period.