University open days are a great way to figure out if a university is for you, they allow you to get a taste of university life that you can’t get from a prospectus.
What are open days?
Universities invite prospective students to their campus for an open day before students apply to university, giving you a chance to visit the campus and see the facilities, along with touring accommodation, and speaking to current university students.
How long do they last?
Open days normally run from around 9am until 3pm, with campus tours and lectures running throughout the day. You don’t have to stay for the full day, but it’s a good idea to plan your day before you arrive to ensure you have time to see everything you want to see.
How much do they cost?
Open days are completely free to attend, with lots of universities offering travel bursaries for prospective applicants, find a list of universities offering travel bursaries on UK University Search’s Blog.
I don’t know what I want to study, should I still go to the open day?
Yes! Visiting lots of different departments and talking to lecturers is a great way to help you figure out if the course is right for you. You can talk to current students about their studies to see if they’re of interest to you. Even if you leave the open day still unsure about courses you’ll have thought about if you liked the university enough to consider applying there.
When should I go to an open day?
The ideal time to start looking at universities is the academic year before you apply. Lots of open days are held in the Spring and Summer term, so going in year 12 gives you plenty of time to consider your options. Universities also hold open days in Autumn months.
What if I can’t make the open day?
Universities tend to run a whole series of open days throughout the year so check if you’re able to attend on an alternative date. If you’re unable to attend any open days universities put on online campus tours and live Q&As with current students so you can find out more about the university. Lots of universities allow prospective students to go on unofficial campus tours and explore the universities themselves.
Do I have to go with my parents?
No, you can go to the open days alone, with your family, or with friends. Whilst you don’t have to go with anyone it’s a good idea to bring someone as picking a university is a big decision and it’s nice to have someone to chat to about it.
Do I need to book online?
The majority of universities require students to register online before the open day. Registering online allows you to see the timetable of the day so you can plan your day accordingly and can make sure you attend everything you’re interested in.
How do I make the most of the university open day?
1: Do your homework
Research and make a schedule of the talks and seminars you’re interested in. Knowing what time talks are on allows you to plan your day around them, making sure you can go to the talks, and go on the campus and accommodation tours.
2: Attend talks and lectures
Most departments run sample lectures and seminars to help you get a feel for what you’ll be learning. Universities also hold talks and Q&As with students on topics such as personal statements, studying abroad, student finance, and life at university.
3: 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.
4: Speak to lecturers
It’s important to speak to lecturers and 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. You can find out more about the course content, how you’ll be taught and assessed, and where past students are working now.
5: 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!
6: 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. If you are interested in living off campus instead of student accommodation 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.
7: Scope out the town
You need to ask yourself if you’d be happy spending 3 years living in the university town/city. 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.