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How to get the most out of university open days

With more universities and colleges to choose from, and the possibility of paying up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, going to open days can help you make a well-informed decision about what and where to study.

We've been asking students and universities what they think is worth looking out for before and during an open day to get the most out of it.

And with mums and dads increasingly getting in on the open day action these days, we asked parents for their views too. Here's what made our checklist.

Getting prepared

A successful open day trip is all about the preparation. Plan ahead by: 

  • checking out the courses you're interested in (you can do that here on Which? University)
  • getting a feel for the layout of the campus – download or print out a map
  • seeing where the uni is in relation to the town or city
  • get a rough plan for your day – book up anything you need to in advance
  • sketching out questions you need answers to – see our top questions to ask for some ideas.

On the day

Maximise your time by attending:

  • at least one or two subject talks, sample lectures, taster sessions or department visits
  • finance or Ucas talks
  • tours of the campus, accommodation and SU venues
  • tours of the town/city itself
  • some time to yourself to do any extra exploring

Back seat parents

Students need to make the final choice when it comes to the right course and university – so over-eager parents, take note! But if you're a student on an open day with your parents, don't leave it to them to ask all the questions – you'll be the one who will be living and studying here.

Your top priority: the course

The course should be at the top of your list of things to find out about at an open day. The end goal is to work out if it's something you really want to spend the next few years focused on, and will offer you the right opportunities. Get it from the horse's mouth – talk to lecturers and admissions tutors and current students on the course.

Make sure you understand exactly what is involved in the course, modules and methods of assessment. The course should be the most important element of choosing where to apply. University Of Birmingham

It’s about understanding the structure and content of the course…

What will you be doing on a weekly basis, how many hours of lectures, what’s the balance between practice and theory?  Melanie | Student

You need to ask yourself whether the course will suit you…

Does it suit your learning-style? My daughter chose a degree at Hull which includes plenty of assessment by coursework and not just examinations. Catherine | Parent

Top questions to ask:

  • What does the course cover?
  • How many hours a week will I be in timetabled teaching?
  • How much flexibility is there?
  • What assessment methods are used?
  • What demands will it make on you?
  • How will you learn?
  • What’s the split between lectures, tutorials and self-directed study?
  • What size are tutorial groups?
  • What deadlines will you have to meet?
  • Does it have the facilities you expect?
  • What opportunities are there for you to broaden and deepen your understanding of the subject?
  • Are placements or study abroad on offer, where are they, how are they organised, are they paid, how do they affect tuition fees?
  • What are the pros and cons of taking a joint or combined course?

We've listed out more useful questions to ask at an open day – from accommodation to facilities – print it out and bring it along with you on the day.

 

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