How to Make the Most of University Open Days

23rd April 2020

Jacob is from Sheffield and studied Journalism at the University of Lincoln before returning home to the Steel City. He used his degree to teach English abroad and has travelled to the likes of Vietnam and Hungary, teaching both young people and adults. Now a Higher Education Engagement Assistant at HeppSY, he continues to work closely with students within the education sector.

Making the step into higher education comes with a sea of choices from choosing the course that’s right for you, the institution that stands above the rest or the city you can’t get enough of.

One of the best ways to navigate these tricky waters is by attending university open days. Here, you can speak to relevant tutors, chat with current students and get a feel for the university, course and city.

Here are five top tips and advice to ensure you make the most of your open day experience:

  1. Plan

Planning is a crucial part of attending open days. Many universities will encourage you to sign up online before arriving and it’s really useful to access online guides to help prioritise and plan your day.

Remember, planning can also be fun! Allow yourself some time to explore the city and maybe even find some nearby food stops on TripAdvisor to sample. Street View on Google Maps is a great way to get your bearings around town and help assess the parking situation.

  1. Talk to Current Students

Lecturers and teaching staff may give you great information on the course and what to expect whilst studying, but current students are the experts on university life.

There will be plenty of student ambassadors on hand to help answer questions, provide advice and give directions. If you want to know what it’s like to share accommodation, join societies or get extra info on day-to-day life as a student, who better to ask than those currently enrolled?

  1. Explore the City

Whilst getting a feel for the university is essential, you’re not going to be confined within the four walls of a lecture theatre for three years.

Open days are a great chance to get out and see the city or town you’ll potentially be living in. Accommodation tours allow you to get off-campus and see some of the surrounding area whilst checking out the best places to live in your first year.

Try to find time to have a walk around the town centre, grab a coffee or bite to eat and take a stroll through any local parks – weather permitting. You could even consider visiting on another day as well, perhaps with family or friends, without the pressure of attending subject talks, etc.

  1. Ask Questions

Ask, ask, ask. Plan questions you’d like to ask course tutors and current students at the university. All those people in university hoodies and t-shirts are there for a reason, so ask away.

Staff and students giving talks love it when you ask questions at the end of their presentation and the chances are everyone in the lecture theatre will be quietly thanking you for being the courageous one.

Often there are opportunities to ask questions at stands and one-to-one. Take advantage of this opportunity.  There’s no need to panic about asking in front of a group of new people and no risk of seeing your Dad’s hand raise slowly to ask a question about the best night out in town during your law talk.

  1. Advice from our Higher Education Engagement Assistants

“Take someone with you. Even better, take someone whose opinion you value. It’s great to gain a new perspective and bounce opinions off one another – they may also think of questions you’d not even thought to ask.” – Katie, University of Sheffield

“Try and go to taster sessions. These give you more of an idea of what else the University has to offer, how you might be learning and what their facilities are like. I did a Journalism taster session and decided then and there that was the course for me.” – Jacob, University of Lincoln

“Go on accommodation tours and ask questions. If you can’t see the accommodation you’re thinking of applying for, ask about it. Think about how close it is to where you’re studying and how good the transport links are.” – Amelia, Aberystwyth University

Remember that the University is showcasing what they have to offer and essentially trying to sell themselves to you. Scratch the surface, ask questions and do your research beforehand to make the most of them.

Please check university websites for the latest information on open days and virtual open days amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

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Relive the best moments of our HeppFest higher education festival from February 2022 here!