Top questions to ask at a university open day
An open day is your best opportunity to uncover what you really want to know about courses and universities; the stuff you won’t find in a prospectus.
It's also the only way you'll really get a 'feel' for what studying (plus maybe living and socialising) there is going to be like.
We asked students and parents fresh back from open days themselves what questions you should ask.
We also asked for some suggested course questions from a careers adviser. Why not print these questions out and use them as a checklist for the big day itself?
Questions to ask about the course
This should be your top priority line of questioning - after all the course should be the reason you’re going to the uni!
This could well be your chance to speak directly to the admissions tutor you'll later need to impress with your UCAS application. Make sure you ask any questions the university website doesn't answer.
- What grades do you need – and can you still get a place if you don't quite get the grades?
- Which qualifications and combinations of qualifications do they accept/prefer?
- If they use the Ucas tariff, will they count all your qualifications?
- Is it worth applying for more than one course?
- How do they select which candidates to make offers to?
Your personal statement
- What do they look for in your application and personal statement?
- Can they recommend any reading or activities to inform your personal statement?
Your UCAS application
- Do they hold interviews or is selection based on your UCAS application?
- How do they feel about gap years and deferred entry applications?
- Is it an advantage to get your application in early?
What the course will be like when you’re there - suggestions from a careers adviser
- 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?
Your career prospects - what happens after
- How will the course make you more employable? Do they offer or arrange placements?
- What have previous students gone on to do after graduating?
- What proportion go on to postgraduate study? Do you need to a postgraduate course to get a job?
- Do they know what past students are doing two or three years later?
- What careers guidance facilities are there?
- Do they run job fairs?
Questions to ask about the accommodation
A lot of open days let you look around typical halls of residence. The likelihood is you'll probably be touring the best on offer, but it's a great time to do some fact-finding.
- Is a place in halls guaranteed? What accommodation is available off-campus?
- Would a place still be guaranteed if you made the uni your insurance choice?
- What does it cost – and what’s included in that cost?
- Will you have to move in and out each term?
- What are the pros and cons of catered versus self-catered?
- How big are the rooms – are some bigger than others?
- How quiet are they?
- Can you put stuff on the walls?
- How secure is it?
- Do most students stay on campus at weekends?
- What happens in years two and three?
- How far will you have to travel to get into uni and around town? Can you bring a car?
- What are the options if I don't get into halls?
Questions to ask about societies and things on campus
- What's on offer here that will provide opportunities for you to develop your employability skills? Are there any connections with local employers?
- Are there any jobs on campus available for students?
- Are there any volunteering opportunities?
- What academic support is available?
- What sports and societies are available?
- What are the transport links like? Are most things available on campus?
Questions to ask about your everyday costs
This is another area that could be useful to discuss with current students who are already managing their finances.
- How do the costs actually break down? How much money will you need to survive?
- To what extent will you need/be able to find part-time work?
- What bursaries, scholarships or fee waivers are there and how do you apply?
- How do placements or a year abroad or a year in the industry affect your costs or tuition fees?
- What's on offer in terms of cheap student deals/nights out / places to eat?
Plus, take a look at our article on the best student bank accounts, on the Which? Money site. Different banks offer different overdraft limits and freebies, and some charge you more than others if you accidentally veer into an unplanned overdraft.
Questions to ask current students
Don't be afraid to ask student ambassadors some probing questions, or politely approach a student on campus for a real-life student view of the uni and course. Swap notes with other visiting students.
- What are the best and worst things about uni in your opinion?
- How have you found the course so far – what are the teaching/ facilities/support/field trips like?
- Are some halls of residence better or worse than others?
- What’s the town/city like?