Not sure which university is right for you? Don’t panic…

Preparing for your first year at university can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience. But a big part of being able to adapt to your new environment is making sure you choose a university – and a course – you’re comfortable with. That’s where open days come in.

To help you get up to speed, here’s a quick rundown on how university open days work:

What are university open days?

A university open day is when an institution invites prospective students (and their families) to look around the university for the day.

Attendees will then have the opportunity to learn more about the university, tour the campus, talk to current students and staff, and be given more details about what university life is really like.

Do all universities offer open days?

Yes. Every university in the United Kingdom will hold at least one open day every year.

However, most will offer two or three open days each year, to spread the number of students out.

When do university open days start?

Usually, open days are held between the months of July and October, to give prospective students enough time to visit several institutions.

If two of your open days clash, contact the universities directly and they’ll do their best to slot you in on another tour. They may even be able to offer you a private one.

For more information, visit the UCAS site to find out open day dates.

What happens on an open day?

During the open day, you’ll have the chance to see several important aspects of the campus.

After indicating what subject you’re interested in, the day will be structured around seeing the relevant department to really get a feel for what it’s like.

You may also be able to:

  • Meet some of the staff members and lecturers
  • Talk to current and former students
  • Attend introductory talks about your chosen subject (as well as uni life in general)
  • See lecture halls, and other university buildings
  • View other university facilities, such as the library and students’ union
  • Take a tour of various student accommodation

Why should I attend a university open day?

University open days are an invaluable way of seeing whether a university is right for you.

As every course is different, it’s a good idea to visit each one you’re thinking about applying for before you submit your application.

And, as tour guides are usually current students, attending open days allows you to find out about their experiences first hand, rather than just listening to lectures.

You will also be able to ask questions about your course, and university life in general.

What questions should I ask at my open day?

Asking questions at your open day is a great way to learn more about what’s on offer, and cover things which might not come up in the prospectus.

Potential questions you could ask include:

  • What modules are compulsory?
  • How large are the tutor groups?
  • Is there a reading list to help students prepare?
  • What sets this course apart from other universities?
  • Are you guaranteed a place in halls?
  • What are the best places to eat and go out?
  • What kind of jobs do graduates go on to after finishing university?
  • What’s the best thing about studying at this uni?

However, this is by no means an extensive list of questions. So think about what’s most important to you before you make the trip – and make sure you’ve got it covered.

Don’t worry if you forget some. You can always contact the university afterwards if you have any more questions.

What should I do before my open day?

The best way to make the most of your open day is to plan ahead.

Here are a couple of things to get sorted before you start looking up open days:

  • Make a list of the universities you want to visit
  • Check UCAS to get some dates of open days you’d like to attend
  • Draw up a calendar, to help you avoid clashes
  • Read through the university prospectus’, to see what’s on offer
  • Check the university websites for a guide to the day, and get timings
  • Plan your schedule for each open day before you arrive
  • Prepare some questions to ask during the day

Finally, if you’re interested in attending an open day, make sure you book your place in advance.

It’s the only sure-fire way to secure your place.

To find out more about university open days, visit the UCAS site now.


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