The next wave of 2019 open days are just around the corner and for many sixth form students, this can often be a challenging period of deliberation. A decision based off one university visit could determine where you choose to study for the next three or more years of your life. Daunting? Perhaps. But hopefully, this complete guide can relieve some of the stress that taints what should be an exciting period of discovery.
Preparation and mind-set
Bookings and timings – get it sorted early!The first thing to do when preparing for your 2019 open days is to plan in advance so you have a good idea of what you wish to get out of each visit. Every university will have a downloadable map on their respective website and a timed itinerary of every lecture, talk, and event planned for the day. Some universities may require you to book for certain talks, with others being open to everyone. Here, it becomes important to properly prioritise what you want to see. Subject-specific talks are always hugely beneficial, giving a valuable insight into what sets that university's course aside from the same subject at a different institution. Having said this, you will also find more generalised talks hugely useful. The Dean’s address, accommodation, studying abroad, mental health facilities and student union events are all examples of talks that will give a broader insight into life at a particular university. On the day a prospectus can usually be picked up, with many universities now also offering to post them to you for free. It’s advisable to leave time between talks to travel between lecture halls. You may also wish to leave longer periods free to explore the grounds or even the surrounding town or city.
Travel and accommodationMany of your dream universities may be on the other side of the country, so try to pick the most efficient and perhaps most affordable form of travel.
- If driving, then have a clear route mapped out and leave time for traffic. It may also be helpful to have located and/or pre-booked a car park nearby.
- Trains are often the easier option but be sure to check for delays and find out how to get from the station to the university.
- Avoiding travel disturbances is without a doubt the first step towards a successful open day.
Approach every visit with an open mindIt may be the case that you already have a list of universities in mind, perhaps arranged by preference. Although it's good to have done research and already have a good idea of your favourite universities, try not to approach visits with any pre-existing ideas. Often, an open day can completely change your perception and if you are open-minded enough then what you thought to be a lesser university may have the potential to blow you away. They say you will get the feeling when you find the right university.
On the day
Lectures and talksSubject-specific talks should be a priority on your 2019 open days. The next three years will be fun no doubt, but you are ultimately there to study and if the subject doesn’t interest you then you will not only find yourself bored but you may feel like you're wasting time. It may be useful to take notes on the specifics of the course. Some examples of questions you might want to ask are:
- How many chosen modules do you get?
- Is the final year predominantly exams or coursework?
- What is the teacher to student ratio?
- How many contact hours do you get?