If you receive an offer from a university or are invited to attend an interview or audition you will be invited to attend an Applicant Open Day. This gives you a chance to explore the university, visit the department you’ll be studying at, meet lecturers and current students, and figure out if this university if right for you.
Why go to an applicant day if you’ve been to an open day?
Applicant Open Days are similar to regular open days but with the added benefit of specific activities designed to show you what life would be like as a student studying a specific subject. Taster lectures and seminars will run throughout the day helping you to get a feel for what you’ll be learning and who your lecturers will be. They’re also a chance to speak to fellow applicants who may be your classmates in September!
Applicant days also give you a chance to reexplore the university and discover things you didn’t notice/get a chance to see the last time you visited the university.
Travel and Accommodation Bursaries
Lots of universities offer travel bursaries to help with the high cost of train/car travel across country. Some travel providers offer discounted tickets if you’re attending an open day. Find a list here. Bursaries are constantly being added and criteria does vary so be sure to check with your university.
If you’re travelling from far away you can often stay overnight in university accommodation for a reduced price. Accommodation is sometimes free at some universities if you’re travelling a certain distance e.g. if you’re visiting the University of Hull from over 70 miles away you’re eligible for free accommodation and breakfast.
Complimentary lunches and snacks for attendees are common. If not there are plenty of places you can buy lunch – e.g. the students union where you can get a taste of what’ll be on offer if you choose that university.
What do I wear?
Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. There’s no need to wear a suit, wear casual clothes that you’d be wearing every day to university. There’ll be a lot of walking so wear comfortable shoes!
What If I can’t make the open day?
Often universities run multiple applicant open days so see if you can attend another one. If you can’t attend the day contact the university and ask if you can receive the information from the day and if you could arrange a university visit if you’d like to see the university again.
Do I have to go with my parents?
You can attend the open days alone but it’s good to have someone with you to help you make a decision. On the day you’ll be split up from whoever’s accompanying you as there are parent and student specific activities. Some universities only let you bring one person and you have to register them online beforehand.
Speak to Current Students
There will be lots of student ambassadors helping out at the open days, make sure you ask them questions to find out more about university life. Students are the best people to ask – they know first-hand what the university is like and what goes on behind the scenes!
Questions to ask students:
- What’s the night/social life like at this university?
- Did you live in student halls? If so which and would you recommend?
- What’s second year housing like? Is it expensive? What part of town do students live in?
- Are part-time jobs in town are easy to get?
- What support is available for students?
- Is there a bank/doctors practice close to campus?
- What did you wish you knew before you went to this university?
- Do you do any clubs or activities? Which would you recommend?
- What’s your favourite aspect of this university?
- What don’t you like about this university?
- What are the transport links like to town?
- Is the town expensive?
Make Sure You Explore Campus
If you’re going to be spending three years of your life in at university, you need make sure the campus is what you’re looking for. Make sure you go on campus tours around the main buildings but also take yourself on an unofficial one to see the ‘real’ side of campus.
Places to visit:
- Libraries/study rooms
- Campus cafes and restaurants
- Student union – check out the food, clubs, banks, pubs, and shops
- Your department
- The Gym/Sports facilities
- Any green space
- Student services
Speak to Lecturers
It’s important to speak to your lecturers/attend their seminars as they’ll be the ones supporting you throughout your university journey and they can give you insights into your chosen course.
Questions to ask lecturers:
- What’s the split between lecturers and independent studying?
- How will I be assessed?
- What do you look for in an applicant?
- What careers do past students/graduates have now?
- How many students will be in my class?
- Does this department help students find internships?
- What careers development does this department offer?
- Are there any internships available in the department?
- What’s the pass rate?
- Is there an opportunity to study abroad or take a placement year? Does the university help you find a placement job?
- Do you have interviews for the course?
- Is there flexibility with required grades?
- Is there an advantage to applying early?
- What department specific scholarships and bursaries are there?
- What makes this university better than others?
- What modules can I study? Can I take classes from outside this department?
- What is the most challenging aspect of the course?
- What support is available to students?
Visit University Accommodation
During the open day universities will have student led tours of accommodation blocs on campus to show you where you could live in first year. This is far more useful than looking at accommodation online or in a brochure as you can understand the size of the rooms a lot better. It’s worth noting that universities will show you the nicest accommodation blocs and may not show all of them. If you are interested in living in a house instead of student accommodation see if the university has their own estate agent/any they would recommend using. Look around the general area that you could be living in, consider how far away it is from your course building, the nearest supermarket, town, or any amenities.
Questions to ask during the accommodation tour:
- Is a place in halls guaranteed for first year students?
- Will you have to move your stuff in and out each term?
- What’s accommodation like in second year?
- Can you live on campus in your second and third year?
- Is there car parking available?
- How many people will I be sharing with?
- How much does it cost a week?
- What happens if I don’t get a place in halls?
- Can I live with my friends in halls?
Some universities offer reduced rates if you would like to stay at the accommodation the night before the Applicant Open Day, be sure to check with each university.
Scope out the town
You need to ask yourself if you’d be happy spending 3 years living in the university town/city. Think about all of the shops, facilities, clubs, bars, public transport, cinemas, and restaurants that you’ll need – does the town have them all? Can you travel to a nearby town if they don’t? Often people move to a university for the course alone and find that living in a tiny town or large city makes them miserable, it’s important to consider both the location and university when going to open days.