Beginning the Search for a University – University Open Days

By | June 13, 2023

So you have decided you want to go to University – great start! So, where to begin? Your first port of call when looking into the minefield of universities is to go and look around some – all universities hold specific University Open Days, giving you the chance to visit the buildings, the city, the lecture theatres, the sports facilities, and perhaps meet some of the people who may end up teaching you or becoming your friends. University open days are a great way to kick off your search for a degree course, so let’s go into some detail about what they are and how they work, so you can make the most of your time searching.

1. Start with the course guide – have a think about what type of course you want to do, rather than which city has the best nightlife or where your friends are going. Not all universities offer all courses, indeed some specialise in certain areas like sport or medicine, so it is important to firstly narrow down your search options based on the courses on offer. If you have a rough idea of what degree course you wish to study, then you can make a list of 10 or so universities which offer your course.

2. Choose the right location – so now you have a shortlist of universities, you will need to consider what type of place you wish to be. To some, being in a big city with good transport links is important, whereas others want the feel of a campus university where they can get their head down and study and meet like-minded people. If you are unsure or not really bothered, then that’s fine, go to a mixture of open days and see if you can find out what’s best for you.

3. Going to the open days – so you have a list of courses, and hopefully a list of universities which offer your course. You now need to make a trip to visit them. Finding the information for the open days is straightforward, there are many resources available online which will give you the details of university open days, so take a look and find out when they are held. University open days are usually held on weekdays, so speak to your form tutor and find out how much time off you can get from your further education studies to go to the open days. Most FE centres allow 4 or 5 days off for you to go and visit.

4. The open day – so you have your list, you have the time off, and the time has come to make your way around the country and visit the prospective universities you are considering applying to. Most universities will provide some literature about the open day so you can get the most out of your visit. Be sure to check out the buildings you will potentially study in, check out the sports facilities if they are important to you, check the halls of residence, the transport links and the campus/city, whichever it may be. Finally, get a feel for the place by asking existing students what life is like at the university – you will get an honest answer!

5. Making a choice – so now you have visited some universities, you will need to make a decision on where to apply. This may be easy, the university open days may have simply confirmed what you already knew, or they may have given you more choice than you perhaps wanted! Either way, a good place to start is to make a list of the universities you have visited, and a list of the important parameters like courses, halls of residence, transport etc, then give each one a score out of 10 so you have a basis to work from. This can be surprisingly useful as you go round the open days, particularly if they are months apart.

Remember, university open days are designed to help you make the right choice and apply for the right university for you. Follow the advice and take the process seriously and you will get the most out of them.