What is a university taster day? An introduction for teachers
With a growing range of subjects available to study at university, some students find the prospect of finding the right course a daunting one. To help students make the best choices for them, many universities offer potential students the opportunity to attend a taster day. This tends to involve visiting a university campus for a few hours, a whole day, or even longer, to find out more about a particular course or subject area.
What a taster day covers will vary depending on the university delivering it, but it’ll almost always be interactive. In some cases students get to try out equipment from a particular study area, or spend time in the sort of class a real undergraduate would take part in. Taster days are always tailored to the audience so don’t worry about lengthy lectures if you have a younger and perhaps fidgety year group!
Some universities hold workshops for primary school groups, most offer something for secondary school students, and almost all will provide sessions for post-16 students.
You’ll find taster days advertised online, using UniTasterDays.com (which you have already found!) or university websites directly. But also get in touch with your local university to find out more about what they have to offer. Universities can even put together a bespoke programme to suit your students and their particular needs or interests.
Finally, a taster day isn’t necessarily just for finding out about a specific course or subject. It’s also your students’ chance to start thinking about university and what it might mean for them. Taster days allow your students to see a university library, find out what a students’ union is, and even just see a university campus for the first time. Visiting a university also allows your students to see what university life is actually like – debunking myths they may have encountered over the years and allowing them to make informed choices about whether university is the right choice for them.
Here at Teesside University, we often encounter amazement when school students find out how big a university is. On many occasions they point to the library thinking that’s ‘the University’. When we tell them that all of the buildings around them are part of the campus, they can’t believe it. This exposure is really useful for young students and it helps them to feel comfortable at university early on. This allows them to realise that university is within their reach and that it’s something that they can aim for if they choose to. School students often leave taster days excited about their future and can’t wait to become a university student. Find out what’s on offer at your local universities and get some dates in the diary!
My top university taster day tips:
1. Get your students to prepare for their visit and think of the things they want to find out on the day
2. Ask the university if they can do a campus tour for your students while they’re there
3. It’s not just about the academic stuff – visit the students union, and find out about the sports clubs and societies too
4. Ask if the university can offer any help with your travel costs.