With two Warwick Open Days around the corner, I thought I’d write a quick post with some advice about how best to approach a university Open Day, based on my personal experience.
Open Days are a great and effective way of getting an impression of the university itself, the courses you are considering taking, the campus, the accommodation and the general feel surrounding it. If you are from abroad, like me, attending an open day can seem like quite the hassle, both financially and in terms of organisation. But, even if it costs a lot of effort, attending an open day is worth it and you will return home far wiser than you were before.
Whilst highly beneficial, Open Days can be overwhelming, especially if you go to one without a plan. There is so much on offer and so much to see in little time that you simply can not go to everything, which means you have to prioritize. Use the Warwick website efficiently and have a thorough read through of the Open Day Guide. It will already give you an idea of the things definitely want to see the sessions you want to attend, and the ones you could afford to skip.
– Ask questions
This is such an important one. However intimidating it may be to walk up to a professor to have a conversion, do it anyway! It really is the best way to gain information you otherwise may not have received if you only attend the department talks. Also, ask a student ambassador a question and then ask the same one to another student. Gaining different perspectives from different people is important and it will help you form your own impression. Make sure you have a prepared list of questions, or areas you would generally like to know more about and try to tick them off throughout the day.
– Take notes
Because you have to take in so much information in a few short hours, you are likely to forget parts of it. To avoid that, make sure you take good notes throughout the day. By this I don’t mean, write out full sentence summaries of everything you see and every conversation you have but instead, jot down a few keywords and leave the writing out part for the car ride home. Do write out your notes though. I personally find this part the hardest but also the most rewarding because it is when you put all you heard and saw together and start to create a good overview. It will also allow you to notice any questions you may still have.
Open Days can quickly become overwhelming and the best way to avoid that taking over is, as I said, to prepare and to have some questions ready, but also by trying not to get caught up in the details. For example, yes, you should visit accommodations and ask current students about their experience living in halls, but this shouldn’t become the main focus of your visit. The university website contains a lot of information on the different choices of accommodation and you can always ask any of the student bloggers for insight from home. So, use the Open Day to talk to staff and leave the details for later.
– Forget to eat
University open days can be long and tiring and stopping to eat may not have been part of your original plan. Stopping to refuel though will not only make your afternoon more enjoyable and less draining, it also allows you to experience one or more of the eating spots on campus! (I recommend Bar Fusion for lunch and Curiositea for an afternoon snack 🙂
– Doubt yourself and your instincts
The purpose of these Open Days is for you to discover where you think you will best fit. Warwick University wants their students to feel at home, comfortable and safe. If, for whatever reason, despite what everyone says, you simply don’t have that feeling when you visit, then trust yourself and accept that maybe it isn’t the place for you. And that’s ok. I personally didn’t immediately have the "this is it" feeling during my Open Day visit at Warwick, and yet, once I arrived and found my bearings, I came to love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Not everyone works in the same way. Some know right away and for others, it takes a bit more time. All I can recommend is, take your time to take it all in, discuss your thoughts with someone you trust, think about it rationally, and in the end, trust yourself and your instincts.
Hope this helps! Enjoy your visit and, as always, feel free to ask me any questions.