It’s not long now until you’ve got some big decisions to make about what happens next for you. You’ve finally decided to draw up a short-list of universities that you’d like to potentially study at, and with that, you’re onto the next chapter of your life. Going to an Open Day can really help you get the information you need to make the right decisions.
Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the rank: prospective student
So, as a ‘prospective student’, what should you do? Firstly, you need to look into courses that capture your interest and the universities that they’re available at. Then, sign up for some Open Days.
Open Days are a great opportunity for you to visit one of those universities that you’re debating studying at. However; how do you know if this university is actually for you?
Well, I’d suggest you follow my advice.
Visit the following on an Open Day:
Many of you will be living away from home for the first time. It’s important to check out where you’ll be sleeping and eating.
If you like the idea of cooking for yourself, check out the self-catered accommodation. Be sure to visit the more expensive accommodation alongside the lower end so you get a true feeling for the difference between the two.
If you don’t fancy yourself as the next Gordon Ramsey, or like me, you are a fire hazard in the kitchen; visit the catered accommodation.
It is also important to see where the accommodation is in relation to where your classes will be. If you’re the type to roll out of bed at 08:50 for a class at 09:00, you probably don’t want to be at the opposite end of campus!
Be sure to ask about what support systems the university has in place to help you with your adjustment to living away from home for the first time. Even the most independent and adventurous of students feel homesick on occasion or suffer the odd low spell. It’s reassuring to know both for yourself and your family that you’re not on your own.
Your course Department
Be sure to chat with the professors and tutors that run your course. Find out more information about the course itself and talk to current students about their experience with the department as well as the university.
Also, if there are any courses belonging to other departments that you’re considering, be sure to visit those also. Chatting with current students is the best way to get a feeling for what the course is like. You’ll also get an idea as to what the atmosphere on campus is like and whether it’s for you.
The nearby city/town
Whether it’s to do your weekly food shop or go drinking on a night, it’s important to visit the nearby town to your university. You’ll be spending a lot of time there! Be sure to check the train routes back to your home town and see what else there is to do besides clubbing. York, for example, is a city rich in history and heritage. If you find yourself interested in that sort of thing, there are many museums, heritage sites, and galleries you can visit.
Important – chat to current students!
I may have mentioned this already – but that’s because it’s important.
Chatting to current students is an excellent way to see how happy they are studying at the university you’re visiting. You can ask how they feel about the course, as well as what sort of people the university attracts.
Ask them about their experience within the various student halls, whether this university was their first choice and irrespective of that, if they have any regrets about studying here.
Don’t let Mum and Dad ask all the questions.
It’s OK for them to take an interest in the next chapter of your life, but ultimately this is your choice, and it’s you who it’ll affect. Take control, and ask questions to both staff and students working the Open Day about things paramount to you.
No Open Day is a waste of time. Whether you walk away knowing you’d like to apply for the university, or have decided this particular university isn’t for you – it has helped you make a decision on which five universities you’re going to apply for when UCAS opens.