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Open days: five mistakes to avoid

Heading off to a uni open day soon? Get the most out of your open day trip by making sure you don't end up doing one of these...

Open days are a great opportunity to decide if a university is the right fit for you, but can take you outside your comfort zone: a huge, unfamiliar campus, the nagging feeling to make a positive impression… 

If this is your first one, you could turn up wishing you'd approached things differently. Instead, avoid these five open day mistakes.

What to ask at an open day: look up top questions about your subject

1. Don't wear something inappropriate

While there's no need to dress formally (though smart is advisable if you're also attending a university interview), we'd suggest going for something that gives off a good impression and feels appropriate to the type of event you're attending. 

Think about comfort. Open days usually involve lots of walking around, so wear appropriate footwear for those campus tours and leave the heels at home. Check the weather forecast of your destination before you leave, especially if the university is further afield.

2. Don't be late

With hundreds of students and their families attending any given open day, universities put in a lot of work to organise a schedule for the day. They'll let you know where you need to be and when, with some idea about the day's activities. This way you can plan your journey properly, ideally with a little bit of spare time in case of delays.

And while it might sound silly, make sure you know which campus you're going to. Many universities have more than one, some of which are in the same town (and others which aren't!) which can confuse things.

3. Don't be shy

An open day isn’t just a lot of people talking at you. It’s a chance to meet those within the university community face-to-face and ask any questions you have. They won’t remember every name and face; but if you have a good question and establish a rapport, you might just stick out which will be helpful if you get in touch with them later on. 

Even if you’re shy or even a little intimidated by your surroundings, try your best to be outgoing and friendly, rather than stick exclusively to your family.

4. Don't arrive without a clue

Think beforehand about what you want to get out of the day: what are the things to find out that could help you decide if this is the right university, and course, for you? 

Our university profiles and course search tools are a good place to start your research and jot down some questions to ask on the day. Look up the university and course to find out what other students have to say about everything from the facilities to the nightlife, as well as building up a picture of the content and modules offered on the course. 

5. Don't leave early

By the afternoon, it will have felt like a very long day: the early start to get there in time, all those talks, the walking tours of campus... But resist the temptation to skip the last few activities of the day and stay until the very end. This may be the only time you’ll get to see the university in person before you apply (or even move there).

If you're going by public transport, try to book an open ticket so you don’t have to rush for a specific train or bus and miss something. Book tickets up early to get the best deals.

More on open days: five must-do things on uni open days

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