I recently went to the Durham post-offer open day. I desperately wanted to love it, as I have heard such great things about the university from family friends and others. The reputation of Durham is stella:whenever I mention what universities I'm looking at, when I mention durham the unanimous reaction is 'Oh, Durham! Ooo' or something along similar lines to that.
I loved the facilities, if I go I'll be apart of 'Stevo' , which means the gym is less than 5 minutes walk away, and everything is pretty much roll-out-of-bed distance. I'm quite sporty and so the rowing will be fantastic, the gym is basically brand new, and even the pool table in the common room is new.
The vibe was great, the restaurants were good (although Cafe Aroma was pretty pricey considering..), and the accommodation was great as well (en-suite, not too many people per hall).
Like I said, I desperately wanted to love Durham so that It'd be an easy decision to firm the uni and get on with achieving the grades. Yet, I sat in on an introductory business management/marketing taster session and I left utterly disillusioned. The room was basically a standard classroom that you'd see in secondary school, kitted out with those little chairs with the crappy folding desks attached. The professor, I forget his name, was entirely unenthusiastic and did more harm than help with respect to coercing us to study at Durham. Upon exiting this session and liaising with the other attendees, this lackluster sentiment was shared. One student and his father (who was ex-durham student) called sitting through that session "purgatory" -- a little extreme, but you get the point.
One half of me wants to just ignore that session, look at the credentials of the business school (which are good) and stick with it. Besides, I'll be spending the majority of my time not in the lecture theatres/tutorials, which means I'll be enjoying the aspects of the university I did like.
The other half has had me reconsidering Exeter, and even Nottingham. I'm going to spend the best part of 3 years at a university, and if I choose Durham I forego the opportunities at the universities which I didn't choose, which may have given me a better experience all round. Nottingham is at least 15 ranks below Durham in nearly every table I've looked at, but the business school there is stella and the facilities when I visited were awe-inspiring. Literally jaw-dropping. The architecture of the buildings, the lecture theatres, and the lecturers were fun, enthusiastic and inspirational. I haven't been to an Exeter open day, although I did visit the university independently. Its business school is consistently ranked around the top 5 in the country, and I have some friends who go there and love it. I wasn't attached to Exeter in the same way that I was to Durham, but honestly the let down of Durham's business department really threw me off and made me consider other options.
Over the Easter break