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University Decision Time Series: Offer Holder Days
After receiving your university offer, it’s highly likely that you will be invited by the department to attend an ‘offer holder day’. The format varies from university to university (and even in-between departments). However, there will be opportunities to engage – whether that be through email exchanges with a contact or other online/in-person (in normal times) sessions – with staff/university students.
What is an offer holder day?
An offer holder is basically an invitation to those individuals that have received an offer from the University to re-engage with the course, department and university, where a lot more targeted information is given.
It’s like an extended open day, but the goal is to provide opportunities for students to find out as much information as possible to support their decision making.
Recall an open day. Given the pandemic, it’s highly likely that those applying for the 2021/22 academic year would have done something virtually. This would include virtual tours and speaking via video call/ online messaging. The aim of the open day was for you to get a sense of what the university itself offers, alongside some overview of the variety of courses and facilities that departments offer. You would have wanted to work out if this is somewhere you want to attend, if you’re successful in getting an offer. Indeed, is there a particular course you want to apply to and what’s offered? An open day is a very important initial information gathering day.
A difference with the ‘offer holder’ day is that it’s exclusive to those students that have received an offer (as the name explicitly addresses). The idea is that you’re probably considering placing the offer as a potential firm or insurance choice (more information on what are firm/insurance choices in my previous blog) and the day will give you more information that can aid with this decision making.
During the offer holder day, both the university/department’s focus, and your own, is different, in comparison to the open day.
Firstly, the offer holder day is more focussed on the specific course you have an offer for. On the open day, you may have gone to an overview event, as part of the day, that outlined various courses’ details. Now, this information is reiterated but in a more detailed and specific sense. You now have the benefit of knowing it’s something you could potentially be studying very soon. This will prompt more engagement with current university students (ambassadors) and staff members that can address your queries and concerns.
Some offer holder days – like at Warwick for my PPE course – actually held some taster sessions. For example, I had a 1-hour mini philosophy lecture/class. I was able to work with, and meet, some fellow offer holders in class. This was a great opportunity to get a feel for what university education might entail. Again, the virtual environment will provide a different experience, if it does indeed go ahead with this format.
Whilst the day may be structured around the course, it’s once again an opportunity for you to bring in those ‘wider considerations’ about whether the university is ideal for you (read my other blog on this).
In particular, I refer back to your perspective – as the offer holder who now has the advantage of knowing that you’re one click away from firming the offer. Therefore, rather than having a prospective lens (I might apply to come to this university, it’s now the case that I can come to this university – but do I want to?)
Here, you will have an opportunity to undertake a campus tour and visit accommodations (probably 2 important factors in decision making, excluding the course information). Campus is all-encompassing – from actual study sites e.g. library to other amenities. This is important, especially if you’re not from the local area or indeed the country! You can get excellent student insight on this. For example, people see Warwick as an isolated campus but, if you speak to students, you would find out that it’s quite a lively ‘bubble’ and a lot to do in surrounding areas, such as Royal Leamington Spa, Coventry etc.
Accommodations are important too. Assuming you’re not living in the area, you will probably be moving out and need to ensure that you will be living somewhere comfortable. Accommodations can vary in sizes and characteristics e.g. en-suite, flat size etc. Bear this in mind and what you consider as essential factors for living.
In summary, offer holder days can be invaluable experiences to refresh and further inform yourself. It’s one of the best engagements you can get with the university before actually attending as a full-time student.