1. Do your research before you go
Sounds obvious, right? But it'll be a massive help if you do. Find out if they do tours or talks. Is the subject you want to do based at a different campus to the main one? Also, plan your journey. Print a map or make a note of the postcode for the sat nav so you don't have to worry about getting lost and missing any activities you've signed up for.
2. Take a checklist with you
University open days are generally busy with lots to do and see, as well as lots of people. With so much happening it can be easy to forget to have a look at a particular facility, or find out about student loans, or anything else you might have thought about beforehand. The easiest way to make sure you remember to do everything you want to do is take a checklist with you. It's pretty lo-fi, but it'll help focus your mind amid all the excitement. To help you out, we've put together a checklist.
Download our open day checklist
3. Sign up for subject talks
Probably the best way to find out if the subject or course you're looking at is right for you is to go to a subject talk. These focus specifically on the subject and is your opportunity to ask lots of questions. How is the course structured? What is a typical week like? Are there opportunities for work experience placements?
4. Do a campus tour
A general campus tour is a great way to have a good look around and get a proper feel for the university you're visiting. Not to mention get your bearings if it's a large campus!
5. Go to general information talks
Most universities will offer general information talks at open days. These usually cover things like student finance, accommodation, and student support services. All things you need to know about, and which could help influence your decision when choosing a uni.
6. Check out the student residences
If there's a chance to look around the accommodation on an open day, take it! This is where you'll likely be living for at least your first year, so it's important you think you'll feel happy there. Some student halls might have floors or blocks set aside for those who prefer a quieter environment. Some might have en-suite rooms. Some might have better kitchens than others. Some halls may be further away from the main campus than others. Make sure you see as much accommodation as possible. Also, definitely check out how much it'll cost. And another good tip: is there a supermarket nearby?
7. Ask questions
We've mentioned this a couple of times already, but ASK QUESTIONS. If you're not sure about something or if you want to find out more about a course, subject, or generally, ask - we don't mind. And don't worry if you don't know what questions to ask at an open day, we've heard them all. All of the staff and students working at an open day want you to go away with as much information as possible to help you make the right decision for you.
8. Check out clubs and societies
Choosing the right uni for your course is top priority, but what about the other things it can offer you? All unis will have clubs and societies, normally run by the students' union, that cover a wide range of interests. Keep an eye out for any that fit with what you like to do, or want to try.
9. Visit the facilities related to the course you want to do
A general campus tour should take in all the facilities the university has to offer. But, if the subject you want to do uses more specialist facilities, like media technology, music, or engineering, make sure you go back to see these facilities in more detail. In many cases you'll be able to have a go on some of the kit.
10. Talk to current students
Most courses will have student representatives at an open day, and they'll be there to talk to potential applicants. So ask them questions (yep, that again). Find out what they think about the course. What was the course interview like? Have they been able to get hands-on experience? You can ask them what it's like as a student at that particular uni, too.
11. Explore the town or city
If the university is in a town or city you've never been to before, going to an open day is the perfect opportunity to have a look around. Do you want to be right in the city centre? If the uni is slightly out of town, how easy is it to get around? What's the nightlife like? Whatever you want out of where you'll be living for at least the next three years - lots of shops, great music venues, nightlife, open spaces, sport venues - have a good look around to see if you think you'll like living there.
Tasks for this week
Make a note of our tips to get prepared for going to uni open days:
- Sign up for some open days.
- Do your research.
- Download our checklist.
- When you're there, ask lots of questions. (we had to get that in one last time!)