Hi everyone, today I’ll be talking about open days; what to expect, how to get the most out of your day, whether to bring your parents or not and why you should go. If you missed my first two posts on starting uni and how to survive Welcome Week be sure to check them out.
Applying to uni? Got an idea of where you’d like to go and what you’d like to study? Then visiting universities is the next logical step. Looking at the university’s website and reading their prospectus cover to cover can be great for understanding what life at university is like but, they can only tell you so much. Get along to an open day and explore the university for yourself.
1. Plan your day
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is never more true than when it comes to open days – there can feel like there’s so much to see and do and you’ll never be able to fit it all in. If you’re expecting to just turn up on a spontaneous vibe and not plan, then you might come away with lots of unanswered questions. Open day guides are usually sent to you when you book on or are available for download. Take 10 minutes the day before just to plan out the day and make a list of the things you would like to see and do. It’s recommended to plan your day around your course talk, after all that’s why you’re thinking about going to uni!
2. What to expect
I remember going to my first open day a couple of years ago and not a having a clue what it was going to be like. Open days do of course vary from university to university but generally you’ll have a talk from the course leader of your specific course of interest (e.g. psychology) in which they will tell you all about the modules and how you’ll be taught. There will be opportunities to ask questions and talk to current students on the course. There will also be a chance to view the accommodation on campus – I found this really helpful to visualise where I could be living. Walking around the campus you can start to get a feel of what life at university is like, especially if you go to an open day during term time.
3. How to get the most out of your day
Ask yourself before you arrive at the open day “what do I want to get out today?” When I visited NTU I had already done a lot of my course research online with the information that was available on different websites, so for me I wanted to get a feel of the university – try to experience what it would be like to study there.
Of course, a big part of making the most of your day is in the preparation and planning – get the practicalities of day sorted; how you’re getting there, when you’re getting there, where to park, where’s best to get lunch etc.
I think it’s important to remember that this is your decision and your future. Bringing a family member or a friend can be helpful as another pair of eyes and ears on the day. But you should be taking the lead, you should be talking to the staff and students. I had mixed experiences of this at the open days I attended. At DMU it was more of a nostalgia trip for my Dad around his old university than a chance for me to take in the course and the campus. At NTU I dropped off to explore the university for the day whilst he went off did some Christmas shopping!
5. Go exploring
As I alluded to there, open days are a great opportunity to explore the campus and the city that the university is in. For me I’d never been to any of the cities of my open days (Nottingham, Leicester and Lincoln) so this was an exciting element to see what they were like as places to live, remembering that you could be living there for 3+ years. I really enjoyed the feel of Nottingham, especially with the City Campus slap bang in the city centre meaning everything was on its doorstep; clubs, restaurants, high street shops. Nottingham also didn’t feel too big but there was a buzz about the place, like there was always something going on. There are usually campus and city tours available on open days which is always nice to be guided so you don’t end up getting completely lost!
6. Ask questions
There’s so many people who are able to answer your questions and queries at open days; course leaders, student ambassadors, student support staff, the accommodation team to name just a few. Don’t leave the open day without getting your question answered or being unclear on student finance, for example. It might be helpful whilst you’re planning your day to think about what you could ask and write down some questions.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and you have a great open day and find a university that suits you. Drop me a reply if you have any questions about open days at NTU and let me know which open days you’re thinking of going to
Tim – NTU TSR Rep
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