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How to get the most out of university events

From open days to taster lectures, there are lots of ways you can learn about university life. Jon at UniTasterDays.com explains more about the different events you can get yourself booked onto…

University events open to prospective students and applicants take place throughout the academic year. Not only can you use them to help you work out if uni is right for you, but they're also a handy way to learn more about what goes on at your chosen university before you actually arrive.

Types of university events to attend

Most universities offer various opportunities, before and after you submit your Ucas application. The main ones are:

Open days

The most common one, open days give you the chance to experience a university as it is, from the campus(es) and accommodation to lecture theatres and leisure facilities. Universities offer them all year around, but June-July and September-October are the most popular periods for them. They're also take place the weekend after results day for those thinking of applying through Clearing.

Do try and head to open days for as many of the universities you're considering. If you can, make a full day of it to also get a feel for the local area around the university – many students go on to stay where they went to university after they graduate, so you might be there longer than you think!

Thinking of applying to Oxbridge? Check out one student's summer residential experience...

Presentations and workshops

These are informative talks and practical sessions on everything from student finance and writing personal statements to what it’s like to be a student at university. They are generally organised by a local university directly with your school or college and could take place there or as part of a university visit - which will give you the chance to experience the campus.

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    Taster / subject-specific sessions

    Taster sessions give you a chance to 'dip your toe' into a course and see what it's like before making any commitments. You also get to sample what studying and learning at university level is actually like, perhaps in a lecture or seminar setting. These can be a great way of helping you to confirm your ideas about a particular subject area and whether it's right (or not!) for you.

    Either way you'll learn something new. How about ‘The mystery of branding: Why pay £200 for a £2 pen?’ business and marketing taster session at Nottingham Trent University, for example?

    Campus tours

    These are a guided look at where you’ll study, socialise and live - and your chance to ask a current student (likely to be your tour leader) for their honest take on life there. These are usually a key part of open days, but may also feature as part of other events.

    It’s recommended that you don’t just turn up at a university and wander round on your own, for security reasons.

    Applicant visit days

    Once you've applied, you may be invited to an applicant visit day by a university. These are generally invite-only affairs and give you the chance to meet fellow applicants, as well as current students, and to find out more about the course. It'll also give you a chance to look at different accommodation options.

    Those are the events available, but why bother?

    Nothing beats getting first-hand insights from students and academic staff during a visit to a university it's where you're most likely to pick up the nugget of information that ends up swinging your uni decision one way or another. 

    Make the most of them as a means of 'trying on the university for size'  whether it's seeing a library, lab or lecture theatre up close or chatting openly to staff and students taking the course you're intending to study. Listen to what they say and ask the questions that matter to you.

    Crucially, you can look around corners, talk to who you want, and ask yourself if it’s right for you for the next few years of your life.

    About the author
    Which? University provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from UniTasterDays.com, a comprehensive database of university events for schools and colleges. 

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