Are you in your final year of school and planning to attend college or university next year? Many institutions hold open days or campus tours, where interested students are invited to see the college before they choose to apply. Choosing to visit the college or university that you plan to spend the next 3 or 4 years at is a smart choice. When you visit an institution, you will be able to decide if it is a place you want to study. You will also be able to ask any questions you may have about the institution. Wondering how to make the most out of university open days? This is for you!
What you can expect at an open day will vary. It largely depends on the college or university, the courses offered and how many students are at the open days. University open days are designed to help you find out whether a college or university is the right one for you. You will be given opportunities to explore the facilities and study options available.
This is what you can expect at most university open days:
✅ A tour around campus - this will either be a guided tour (often hosted by current students) or a self-guided tour, where you can walk around at your own pace. During this tour, you will get a good look at the learning facilities, accommodation options and social spaces.
✅ You have the opportunity to speak to lecturers and student ambassadors to ask any questions you may have about life on campus.
✅ You can get a better understanding of the kind of courses and subjects available.
✅ You can attend stalls, events or talks with more information and advice for students planning to attend a college or university.
Related: Should You Take A Gap Year?
This is a very personal decision and it is one you should make based on your own list of colleges and universities you want to attend. Don’t simply visit the institutions that your friends or boyfriend/girlfriend plan to attend.
Here are some things to consider before attending an open day:
💡 Does the university offer courses that excite you? Consider your career aspirations and the degree programmes you are interested in. You won’t find value in attending universities and colleges if you aren’t excited about what you’ll be studying.
💡 Consider the campus - your qualification is important but so is the environment. You should consider if the location is ideal compared to where your family lives.
Here’s how you can best prepare yourself before attending a university open day:
👍Put the dates in your diary - Take a look at the websites of all your prospective colleges and universities and diarise all open day dates. If required to register ahead of time, do so in advance.
👍 Familiarise yourself with the open day schedule - If you’ve registered, you can expect an email about a week beforehand with more information and often with a schedule attached.
👍 Narrow down the areas you are interested in - While looking at the schedule, choose which talks you would like to attend and which departments you want to visit. This will help you plan out your day.
👍 Make a list of questions - Is there anything you really want to find out about the university, the lecturers or even the course material while attending the open day? Make a list of all the questions you have so you don’t forget them. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our list of questions below.
👍 Plan your route - Will you drive to the open day? If so, make sure you know where to park (as well as how long you can park there for and what it will cost). If you are using public transport, find out if you will need to book your ticket ahead of time.
👍 Look at the map - Familiarise yourself with the campus and map out any places you know you want to visit while you’re there. Identify the meeting point for the open day and how to locate it when you arrive.
👍 Choose your outfit - There is usually no dress code, but it’s always good to look presentable. Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes so your feet don’t hurt after all the walking!
Related: How To Write A Winning Scholarship Essay
Here’s a list of what you should bring along with you to the open day:
🎒 A tote bag or backpack to collect brochures you want to keep.
🎒 Water and a snack, in case the on-campus food options are limited.
🎒 Notebook and pen, so you can make notes throughout the day.
🎒 Your list of questions.
🎒 A power bank to keep your phone charged.
🎒 A confirmation email or entrance ticket (don’t forget your parking permit, if required).
🎒 Your parents - they’ll feel included in the process and will probably ask questions you haven’t thought of because they see things through a different lens.
Questions about the course:
❓ How many hours will be teaching based compared to self-directed study?
❓ How is the course assessed?
❓ What grades do you need to get to pass this course?
❓ What qualities or experience will you look for when reading college applications?
❓ Is professional working experience required?
❓ What careers have recent graduates chosen?
❓ Are there any scholarships?
Questions about the accommodation:
❓ What are the accommodation options for first years?
❓ How and when can you apply for accommodation?
❓ How much does accommodation cost and when do you need to pay?
❓ Is the accommodation self-catered?
❓ Are there extra facilities on site, such as a gym or laundrette?
❓ What shops and transport options are nearby?
❓ Is there any off-campus accommodation available?
Questions about the campus:
❓ What facilities are available on and off-campus?
❓ What are the transport links like?
❓ Is there parking available for students?
❓ How far away is the campus from the nearest town, and what does it have to offer?
❓ Are there any jobs on campus for students?
❓ What sports and societies are available?
❓ What support does the institution offer for individual wellbeing?
Related: How To Apply For A Bursary
Don’t rush from one visit to the next. Instead, take some time to reflect on what you learned while you were at the open day. Plan on popping to a nearby coffee shop after the open day and chat about your experience with your parents.
Consider what you saw and heard during your visit and ask yourself if you can imagine studying there for the next 3 (or more) years. Can you see yourself revising and finishing assignments in the study areas?
Did the location and atmosphere feel like a good fit for you? Do you think you would be happy there? Would you feel comfortable in the town or city that the university is located in? What are the food prices like on campus and in the surrounding areas? How far apart are the necessities from where you will live?
If you haven’t done so yet, find student reviews and see what other students think about the university. What is the student support like?
And finally, if you weren’t able to get answers to all your questions, make contact with the university by call or email. You might want to book in another visit if you couldn’t see everything at the open day or if there is something you aren’t sure about.
Starting university can be an exciting step in one’s life; for others, it can be a scary and stressful transition from high school into the unknown. (read more)
In this post, we are covering the basics of how to apply for a bursary, including a full list of all available bursaries in South Africa and the United Kingdom. (read more)