How can your students make the most of a university open day?
Open days are opportunities for students to visit the universities they are interested in studying at, meet academic staff, current university students, and support staff such as admissions, disability support, accommodation and the Students’ Union. Open days enable students to fact find, expand their comfort zone and most of all, it should give them that feeling – that one they get in their gut that just feels right.
Students generally need to book their place in advance - which is usually online. Some universities send open day programmes in advance, others may not. If they do, it’s a good idea for students to have a read and plan their day.
Travelling to open days can be expensive. Many universities offer travel bursaries to help with the cost. Universities may also offer overnight stays in their student accommodation for free or at a discounted rate. I would recommend encouraging students to check with the university what is available.
My advice to students is to get organised beforehand – print off booking confirmation emails, plan journey routes/times and parking, look at maps of the university online to get bearings, and write down any questions you want answering.
Current university students are a great source of information. They will be honest with students and are experienced with knowing the best places on campus. Plus, with accommodation, they know the ones students want to be in and the ones students don’t!
Exploring the campus gives students the opportunity to get a feel for the university and explore the facilities. It’s also a good idea for students to spend some time in the local area to check out the shops and nightlife.
Students can also meet academic staff and experience their course of interest. This could involve an informal meet and greet, tour of the facilities, and possibly, taking part in a subject taster session.
Example questions for students to ask at an open day:
Students may also decide to have a list of questions they want to collect answers for. For example:
- What do you look for in a [subject] student?
- What are the entry requirements?
- How many contact hours do I have per week?
- Are there opportunities to gain work experience / work abroad?
- What clubs and societies are there for me to get involved in?
- What is the local neighbourhood like?
- Where is the accommodation located and what is the cost?
How about after the open day?
This is a time for reflection. Can the student see themselves studying (and living) there? Does the university offer the things they want or value?
Preparing for an open day beforehand will enable students to make the most of the day and ensure they get their questions answered to help them make the right choice of university for them.
Vicky Bradley works as a Regional Student Recruitment Specialist at CU Scarborough. She has worked in higher education for approaching four years, across both student recruitment and Widening Participation. She has a particular interest in social mobility and enjoys working with young people, providing them with information and resources to help them realise their aspirations. She is a member of HELOA and regularly attends regional meetings and national conferences to keep up-to-date with changes in the sector and to network and share best practice.