How to prepare for university open days...and why you should go to them

campus walk concept art

Here are answers to some common questions about open days

Visiting an open day is a unique opportunity to discover what the university is really like – you'll get a few hours to root around and feel like you're already a student there.

The time you spend at the university can help you decide whether or not you'd like to apply there. So, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about open days.

And if you want to dig deeper into open days, with advice and sample questions to ask - take a look at the open days section on our sister site The Uni Guide

Why should I go to a university open day?

Open days give you a real feel for a university and what life there is really like – it's a great chance to scope out your potential new home for the next few years. 

Open days can completely change your mind on things. I was 99% set on my firm choice before I had visited. My view on the uni was based on what I had been told. After open days I ended up putting a completely different uni altogether.

The Student Room member Lucabrasi98

There will be a tour as well as talks about accommodation, finance and student life.

You can also speak to current students. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get their opinions – they are there to help.

What will happen on a university open day?

Most universities will share their open day timetable in advance. Take a look at this and you'll be able to plan what you're going to do and when.

There will be a bunch of things to choose from: accommodation, campus and subject tours, as well as financial, subject and parent talks.

But you don't have to go on every tour and sit through every talk – just pick the ones that will help your application decision.

Making the most of an open day

You'll get the chance to chat with academics, staff and current students at an open day. They can all provide different perspectives on what the uni is like, so think of some questions you want to ask.

As well as asking about the course and facilities, think about things that could influence your life – what the city's like, the cost of public transport or if there's a society for your favourite hobby. 

We've got forums for each individual university on The Student Room, so you can see what current students are saying about their experience. 

When do university open days happen?

Most open days are held in the spring and summer before you apply to university, although many universities will hold another open day during the autumn.

You'll find specific information about each open day on the university's website.

Lots of universities will ask you to book for their open days on their site too – we've got links to them over on The Uni Guide.

What do I wear to an university open day?

There's no dress code – just wear something you'll feel comfortable in.

Wear shoes that you will be comfortable walking around in, as there is a hell of a lot of walking at open days.

eilish1903, member of The Student Room

Who should I take with me to a university open day?

It's completely up to you. Most students bring a parent but you can go with a friend or you can just go on your own. 

At least one of my parents came with me to each open day I attended, nearly everyone had parents with them. Some of the more local people had just gone with their friends because they already knew the uni.

Charlotte's Web, member of The Student Room

Will the university penalise me if I don’t go to their open day?

Nope. It's great to chat to lecturers and mingle with your potential classmates, but it won’t affect your chances of being accepted if you don't go.

I can only attend one university open day, which one should I choose?

Choose the university at the top of your list. For the other unis you're interested in, you could go to a virtual open day – you'll still get to ask questions but without the time and travel commitment. 

If cost is a factor, look into travel options – you can get a third off all rail travel with a 16-25 Railcard.

Are applicant days the same as open days?

Once you’ve submitted your Ucas application and universities have started offering you a place, they will probably invite you to an applicant day during spring.

Applicant days are specific to your course, rather than a general tour of the university; you can ask tutors and current students in-depth questions about course content.

Essentially, open days help you decide whether to apply for a particular university – and applicant days help you decide whether that university is going to be your firm choice.

What kind of questions should I ask on a university open day?

You can find top questions to ask at an open day on The Uni Guide, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. How is the course taught?

Teaching methods vary across universities and courses, so you can get some useful insights by asking how your potential course will be taught and assessed. 

2. Is there opportunity for a placement year? 

Lots of courses include the option for a placement year. Ask for 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, and it varies depending on the subject. Ask how much you'll get and how it changes during the course.

4. What are the course facilities like?

Get a clear idea of what facilities and technology are available and which study areas you’ll have access to. Find out when the library's open and if your course uses specialist equipment you can use.

5. How likely am I to get a job?

Ask about the types of jobs that graduates go into – this will help you to decide if the course can help you achieve your career goals.

6. What’s the accommodation like? 

This could be your new home soon! So find out whether there are accommodation options to suit your budget – and take a look at them.

7. Would current students recommend the course?

This is a great chance to get an honest account on everything you need to know, from info about the course and lecturers to the facilities and accommodation.

You can also find stats about student satisfaction in the annual National Student Survey and on The Uni Guide.

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