Get the most from an open day - here are the questions you should be asking
Going to a university open day can give you a great taster of campus life. It's an opportunity to find out more about the course you fancy and see where you could be studying, as well as a time for meeting the teaching staff and speaking to current students.
You'll get the most from an open day if you find out exactly what you need to know before studying at a uni. So, we spoke to the University of Huddersfield for advice on what questions students should be asking - here are eight to get you started.
1. How is the course taught?
How do you like to learn? Will the setup of this course get the best out of you?
Teaching methods vary across universities and courses, so it’s worth asking questions to find out how your potential course will be taught.
Find out which modules are lecture-based and which are seminar-based. In a seminar you are usually taught in smaller groups than a lecture, and they can be more discussion based, with lectures being less interactive. The lecturer will usually talk more and ask fewer questions, but it really does depend on the lecturer’s style.
When you register for an open day, be sure to book on to any talks, tours and taster sessions for the subjects you’re interested in, too, so you don’t miss out on any vital info.
Julie Pink, Head of Schools and Colleges Liaison Service at the University of Huddersfield, says: “An open day is the best opportunity to find out what teaching is like. However, if you’re unable to attend the open day, look into ‘taster days’. Huddersfield offers taster days to give prospective students an indication of what it feels like to learn in the university setting.”
2. Is there opportunity for a placement year?
“Something we get asked about a lot at our open days is placement years, as they’re a key part of the course. They enable you to get real-world experience on your CV and you may even get the opportunity to work abroad, so make sure you find out as much as you can” says Julie.
It’s a good idea to find out what support is on offer to help you to find a suitable placement or whether you’ll need to do this yourself. Ask for some examples of companies the university has links with and where previous students have been placed.
3. How much contact time will there be?
Contact time is the number of hours of formal learning you’ll have at the university. Ask how much you'll get and how it changes during the course. Contact time varies depending on the type of subject you’ve chosen and some more practical and vocational courses like nursing and teaching will mean some of the time is spent on placement instead of in a lecture.
Also, bear in mind how much self-study will be required for your course. You’ll likely be expected to get through the advised course reading throughout the module, as well as tackling specific chapters or texts ahead of seminars and lectures.
4. What’s student life like at the uni?
An open day gives you the chance to picture yourself living at the uni and to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Get a feel for the campus by going on a campus tour. Will you be happy to live there for the next three years?
Focus on what you want to get out of your uni experience – nightlife, sport, volunteering? Everyone’s different.
Julie advises: “Make sure you speak to Students’ Union members of staff to find out what’s on offer. What societies and clubs could you join? Explore the town or city while you’re there too and ask current students what there is to do.
“You’ll certainly be more independent at university, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t support for students. If you have any concerns, talk to staff about what help is available should you need it: finance, disability, wellbeing, part-time jobs etc.”
5. What are the course facilities like?
Get a clear idea of what facilities and technology are available to you and which study/work areas you’ll have access to. Go on a tour of the library. Is it open all year round, round the clock? Essential if you’re a night owl.
If your course uses specialist equipment, find out whether it will be available when you’ll need it. Is it industry-standard?
Julie’s advice is to “ask questions and make notes so you can easily compare the facilities at different universities or – even better, as there’s so much information to take in – take photos to help you remember.”
6. How likely am I to get a job?
Finding out about your employability prospects after uni is a must – and no doubt a question your parents will want you to ask!
Don’t just look at employment rates, ask about the types of jobs that graduates go into. This will help you to decide how likely the course is to help you achieve your career goals.
Ask what else the course offers – industry accreditations, guest lectures, live briefs, student competitions, field trips, professional qualifications… Things that could boost your CV and help wow future employers.
7. What’s the accommodation like?
Top of the list for most visitors at an open day is to check out the accommodation options. After all, this could be your new home soon!
Be sure to find out whether there are accommodation options to suit your budget and to ask the relevant people the right questions.
Julie recommends: “Take friends or family along on an accommodation tour. Choosing where to live is another big decision, so it’s good to get a second opinion. Find out exactly what is covered in the price so you can judge if it’s value for money. It’s also worth asking whether first years are guaranteed a place in halls and whether there’s a welcome programme to help you settle in and make friends.”
8. Would current students recommend the course?
You can find stats about student satisfaction in the annual National Student Survey, but also be sure to use the open day to chat to current students about the course. This is an invaluable opportunity to get an honest account on everything you need to know, from info about the course and lecturers to the facilities and accommodation. Think about asking them what they like about the course and if they have any advice for anyone thinking about studying it.
Find out more about open days at Huddersfield here.
About our sponsor
The University of Huddersfield is a centre for teaching excellence. It’s the number one university in England for the proportion of staff with teaching qualifications (HESA 2019). It’s also gold-rated in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) as well as winning the first Global Teaching Excellence Award in 2017.
The University has a strong emphasis on real-world experience through work placements and Industry links. Based in West Yorkshire it has excellent transport links to rest of the UK. The modern attractive campus makes Huddersfield an inspiring place to learn.