How To Make The Most Out Of An Open Day
Before you do anything else, the first step is to order as many prospectuses as you feel is necessary. They’re free to order off university websites or if you want to be sustainable, download the pdf version. See which universities and courses you like the look of and book an open day!
At this point of the year, many of you may still be undecided on what degree you actually want to do. Use this as an opportunity to attend as many departmental talks as possible; after open days at several universities you will start to get a sense of not just which course you’d like to apply for, but also which university is best for each course you’re thinking about. Now is not the time to shy away from asking as many questions about the course as you need to you. Some could include:
* How much contact time is there?
* What would make a personal statement stand out?
* How much tutor support is there?
Liberal Arts side note: Make sure you go to the talks from the departments you might like to take modules from. However, more importantly make a judgement about the Liberal Arts department itself. This was the biggest factor in influencing my decision to come to Warwick: The course leaders displayed an incredibly infectious enthusiasm for the course and a genuine desire to make it the best it could be. The degrees at other universities did not come across as well put together as Warwick’s was. For example, Durham and Birmingham’s degrees were essentially pick ‘n mix degree, not a Liberal Arts degree.
Clearly for me, the course was the most important aspect in terms of which university I applied to, but other aspects of university life were also very important. For example, growing up in a rural area, I was very adamant that I wanted to attend a campus university as opposed to a city one. This may not be as important for everybody, but make sure you explore as many parts of the university as possible because you’re gonna be walking around there a lot if you attend! If you want to find out interesting facts about the different spaces and areas of the university, that I’d recommend going on a guided campus tour. However, this can take valuable time out of your day; I preferred to explore universities at my own pace and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by never taking a campus tour.
With hindsight, one thing I would say not to bother with is looking at accommodation if you’re pressed for time. Accommodation is similar at most unis in that they all have cheap accommodation with shared toilets and more expensive one with ensuites. Save looking at accommodation for an offer holder day when there is actually a high chance that you will end up studying at that university. Be wary of fixating on one specific accommodation, because even if you get into that uni, there is a fairly large chance that you won’t be allocated that accommodation. I only got my 4 choice of accommodation at Warwick and it really didn’t matter that much: https://our.warwick.ac.uk/why-your-accommodation-doesnt-matter/
Also consider the geographical location of the university. While research has proven that regularly going home during term time has a detrimental impact on your whole university experience, if you are someone that feels the need to do this, you may want to consider how long it take you to travel to each university you visit. If the journey is long and expensive you may be less inclined to make regular trips home (which I personally think is a good thing).
My greatest piece of advice would be to visit each uni with an open mind. It’s good to have done research about many aspects of each uni before you visit it, but there’s little point going to an open day somewhere that you’ve already decided isn’t suitable for you. At the same time, use it as an opportunity to ask questions about things that are not made fully clear online or in the prospectus. I think I went to 11 open days in the end… I admit I went way overboard! But the nature of the degree I wanted to do meant that I felt I had to do as much researching about the different universities offering it as possible. Some people may be different, but I could never apply to a university without having visited it on an open day.
Good luck with your open days!
P.S. Come to Warwick, it’s cool
P.P.S. I’ll be dancing on the Piazza at both of the open days at the end of June