Open days are a great way to ‘test drive’ your prospective universities, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of your day:
- Plan your day
I recently went to Disney World and was so upset when I got home and realised I’d missed out on some amazing attractions. Trust me, you don’t want to get home and realise you’d missed the chance to visit the gym/café/student union or whatever it is that’s important to you! So make a checklist and take it with you on the day!
- Come with company!
While deciding on a university should be a personal decision, the opinions of those who know you best can help you make a good choice. I recommend going along with your parents, siblings or good friends who may be able to help you decide if the school is a good fit for you.
- Check out both the cheapest & priciest accommodation
Most students run to check out the best/newest accommodation on campus. However, I recommend also checking out the oldest or least expensive halls so you can have a good idea about the range of accommodation that is available. It’s impossible for everyone to get their first choice for accommodation, so it good to see some of the more basic options, so as to avoid shock/disappointment on move-in day!
- Don’t skip the talk/ tours
I know a lot of people hate sitting in a lecture hall for 30 minutes while you could be out wandering campus – but the talks and tours are designed to give you a condensed version of university life. The people giving talks and tours have been doing it for years, so trust me when I say the talks and tours will answer any burning questions you had, and even those questions you haven’t yet thought of!
- Ask student guides the tough questions
As a PhD student I gave student campus and accommodation tours at The University of Warwick (UK) and it was always so much fun to chat with all the visiting families. These tours are a great opportunity to engage with a current student and ask them the things you REALLY want to know e.g. What hall has the most parties? Ca you get pizza delivered to the library at 2 a.m.? What can you get away with on hall and what will get you evicted? So don’t be afraid to ask the student guides anything you need to know – they are willing to chat and they’ll give you honest answers.
- Visit the city centre & prospective neighbourhoods
Regardless of how amazing your campus may be, you are going to have to leave it at some point. That’s why it’s so important to take in the ‘feel’ of what may be your new city. I recommend taking a walk or even a drive around the city centre to get a feel for the city’s vibe and see how well it potentially meshes with your lifestyle. I also think it’s important to check out the neighbourhoods where off-campus accommodation is located, so you can see what they’re like and determine which ones would be the best fit for you.
- Pay attention to the little things
If you want to know what a campus is really like – read the signs. Checking the notice boards and read the advertisements there will let you know that there are pancake days every Thursday or that theirs pole dancing classes every week in the student union. You can also check out the menus at cafeteria to see if they have vegan options available and check the student union for party schedules. My point is simply to pay attention to even the most insignificant things because they really can give you great insight into the culture of the school.
I hope these tips help and that you have a blast at any of the Open Day events you attend!
Also, check out the ‘Complete University Guide’s Open Day Calendar’ for open day dates across the UK!