Making the most of Open Days
Open days can be a lot. I get it. Not only are you picking where you want to study for the next few years, but you’re also thinking about what you want to study. Add into that the fact you’ll probably be living there for the next 3 years, and that what you choose now can dictate what you do for the rest of your life. Yep, that’s a whole lot of pressure.
I remember how I felt when I started looking at universities, and the UCAS system. Sure, I was excited to spend my time doing more of what I picked, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go. Truthfully, I was terrified. I found it all so overwhelming, and I didn’t quite know where to start. Then I remembered open days.
If you ever want to really get a feel for a place, visiting is one of the best things you can do. Sure, open days are planned events, where a university will want to show off its best features. But a department will want to attract students they think will do well with them and will fit in there. I know working for open days here at Warwick for the Classics department I often say the department is small because they care- the staff want to pick the people that they genuinely believe will succeed here, and they want the students who will fit into our department community.
Going to an open day gives you a chance to see the department in its home space. It gives you plenty of time to look at everything in a department and things outside of the department too. For me things like taster lectures were a great insight- are they teaching and researching topics I find interesting too? Do they offer a good range of modules, and how do they assess their modules? One of the big things for me picking Warwick was the use of alternative assessment methods, instead of just essays and exams.
Outside of a department is just as important as inside a department. A beautiful library means nothing if you’re never going to feel comfortable studying there. So, can you find spaces where you would feel happy studying? If you’re going to be moving into halls, definitely take open days as a chance to look around accommodation- think about things like your budget, and if you could see yourself living there. Also, look at if you can find spaces to relax- Warwick has places like the Occulus green and the Piazza which are great spaces for meeting up with friends. Maybe consider societies and sports clubs too- if there’s something you’re particularly passionate about, check you can keep going with it at university. For me, my major yesses were things like the Tap society, the Classics society, and then seeing the variety of things I could try with no experience, like Quidditch, or Pole & Aerial, Cheerleading, or Pantomime.
At the end of the day, you want to find where’s best for you. One of the most important things about the whole process is to keep believing that you will find where you belong. For me, one of the things that drew me to Warwick was the atmosphere on Campus. It felt really warm and friendly, and things like talking to current students at the time confirmed it for me. Going to the open days really helped me make my decision because I got to experience and learn so much more about universities than I had before just looking through websites or prospectuses. So yes, it may be scary to start with, but you’ve got this, and open days are a great way to find where you belong.