University Tips Blog
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A headshot image of the author, Charlotte Kettlewell

by Charlotte Kettlewell

Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer at University College Birmingham

posted on 6 Feb '23

A parent guide to attending a university open day – what to expect when you arrive

It can feel daunting supporting your young person during their university search. From the travel, exploring different institutions, right through to perhaps sharing the stress about this upcoming new life change.

During this process, you may attend university open days. Below are some things you can expect to experience when attending an open day with them, and important considerations to be aware of.

Preparing for an open day

Help your young person feel prepared for the day, make sure you all have a notebook, and they have copies of sign-up emails/information they need to bring.

Travelling to an open day

It is important for you and your young person to experience the journey length from home and the potential costs associated with it.

Ask lots of questions!

You’re likely to meet a student ambassador early in the day. These current students provide a wonderful opportunity for you to ask questions about their experiences as a student. You can combine these with questions for lecturers and support staff. Encourage the person you’re supporting to ask questions too!

What to expect in a university open day talk

Most universities will have talks about their institution, about their facilities and campuses and general information and ethos. These are particularly handy if this is your first visit to the institution.

Image of a group of students attending an open day

What to expect in a open day subject talk

Universities will offer subject workshops or talks aimed at students. These are usually attended by parents as well, and give general information about the course with a question and answer session at the end. This is a good opportunity to gather more information and explore subject options.

Lecturer 1-2-1 opportunities at open days

There might be an opportunity to meet lecturers 1-to-1, to ask further questions that you may not have had answered in the subject talk.

Support Services Drop-Ins (such as Disability, Housing, Careers, Mental Health Services etc)

Depending on your young person’s needs, there may be support services that you need further information on. There are usually an array of guides and booklets with extra advice.

Accommodation Tour

It’s a good idea to visit the accommodation blocks available. If you’re short for time, pick a mid-range accommodation, or one that you believe would be within a price range. Consider elements such as shared bathrooms, kitchen sizes and where it is in relation to the campus your young person would be studying in.

Visit the facilities!

Have a campus tour, visit the students’ union, visit campus shops and food outlets, buy food from the canteen and even use the toilets! You and the person you’re supporting will get to experience the day-to-day facilities that will be available during their studies and will be able to get more of a ‘feel’ for the institution.

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