Coming to an open day can really help to finalise your decision on which university is for you, and where you can see yourself studying and living next year.
Above is a picture from my first open day with my Mum in Autumn 2017 which seems so long ago! The best way to get the most from these visits it by knowing the right questions to ask, so here are a few questions that I asked along with some that I wish that I had!
1. What is the course like?
Finding out about the course or subject area is, of course, one of the most important things. Understanding the number of contact hours you would have will give you an understanding of how intense the course is, especially considering there will be an expectation of extra reading too.
Don’t be afraid to ask course representatives why they like their course or their favourite part about the course. They are there to help and give you an insight, and it can really help you to get a feel for what it’s like.
2. How will I be taught?
Courses at university can be split up in a variety of teaching methods, such as tutorials, workshops and lectures. Finding out the ways that you will be taught is very important when deciding on a course to ensure you will be taught in the right way for you. Every course and University is different.
It can also be helpful when ensuring you are prepared in September – packing a large amount of cellotape and glue sticks was a complete waste of money for my business course, so learn from my mistakes. Also understanding assessment weightings of modules will help you to see if the course is for you, especially if you’re better at coursework or exams.
3. Are there opportunities for building on my subject knowledge and developing skills?
If you have a particular interest in a certain aspect of your course or are perhaps thinking of setting up a business and want some help, see what the University offers.
University is very much the stepping stone to the next chapter of your life and should be able to support you in any direction you want to go in. Whether this is learning a new language, building social media skills or taking part in skills development workshops, understanding what the University can offer you is important when making your final choice.
4. What support is there if I am struggling?
Relating to your course or just in general, find out what outside opportunities and support are available to students. Knowing what support is out there if you are struggling with something can help to differentiate Universities, especially if you have never done the course before. Having opportunities for maths or essay writing support is really useful and finding out people’s experiences of these services will offer some insight.
5. What sports/societies/activities can I get involved in?
Social life is a key part of university and going somewhere where you can have fun and get involved with things you love should be a huge factor in your decision.
Whether it’s a certain sport you’re looking to join or want to meet like-minded people in societies, it is interesting understanding what kind of things that you can get involved that are run by the University or Student’s Union.
Asking student ambassadors about this can also be very interesting; hearing what other people’s experiences of their extracurricular activities and how they have fun, can help to shed light on what kind of social life you can have at that University.
6. Which accommodation is best for me?
Most people have an idea of what kind accommodation they want – but with so many options, how do you know which is best for you?! Speaking to the accommodation team on an open day is a good way to get a grasp of what’s on offer and at what price.
Going on a campus or accommodation tour can also really help you to get a feel for what living in a certain hall can be like and whether you see yourself living there. Having a little think about what you might want before going to an open day is also a key part of getting the most from these tours; ensuite or shared bathroom, catered or self-catered.
For me, I always was going to be catered as my mum warned me at my Open Day “You’d be silly to think you could last at University without poisoning yourself, you can’t even make toast!”. So if you’re like me, going catered might be a good idea… But seeing a similar hall on an open day helped make my decision on the hall that I chose.
7. What is living in Loughborough like?
Getting a grasp of what the campus, town or city are like is an important part of any open day to get a true feel of the place you could be living for the next three or four years.
Finding where there are places to get food, shops and restaurants is a key part of understanding if you can see yourself walking into town with friends or relaxing in the local pub or union. Again, finding out people’s experiences and what they think about the town or campus is one of the best ways to gain an insight as they have been living at the University for a while and have a real feel for what it’s like.
Another tip I have would be, if you have time, to go into the town or city after an open day to see what’s around and get a feel for the wider area you could be living in.
8. What has your experience of Loughborough been like? What has been your favourite part so far?
Finding out what people’s experience has been like can help you to get an insight into what your time could be like studying at that University. It can help you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and has been a running theme throughout this blog. You could be like that person in one year, and they know more or less everything you want to know from a similar student perspective, so ask away!
Getting the most out of an open day stems from knowing what to ask and being prepared so that you know what you want to find out to help make your choice.
Choosing between Universities is hard, and you can normally see yourself at the right one, but hopefully this will help give some inspiration when asking questions and making the most of the open days in summer and autumn.