The best way to find out whether a university is right for you is to see it for yourself. An open day gives you the chance to do just that.
Like the universities, every open day will be different. There’s no set format for how these things work but normally you’ll meet staff and students alike, find out about their facilities and accommodation, and get a chance to check out the campus.
For example, the University of Kent holds open days at both its Canterbury and Medway campuses. They offer talks on a range of useful topics, such as student life, the UCAS process and accommodation. There are also demonstrations, sample lectures and workshops, delivered by the various academic schools.
Some universities will provide accommodation for open days, giving you the chance to experience a night in halls and to get a feel for what university life is really like.
The information that you learn at an open day is the stuff that you won’t find in the prospectus. It’s the only way to really get a sense of what it would be like to be a student of that university. Campus life is very different to home and school, so you need to be as prepared as you can be.
The University of Manchester holds a Student Experience Exhibition to give you what they call the ‘inside story on the full University of Manchester student experience’. Essentially, this is where you pick up information on vital student services, such as careers, finance, sport, the library and more.
A big part of campus life is societies and activities. Universities will often have societies showcases, where you can check out who they are and what they do.
The majority of universities don’t require you to book for open days. However, if you can, I would, just in case. It’s also a good idea to check out the programme and timetable, just in case some individual events do require booking.
A lot of universities will hold both pre- and post-offer open days. These do pretty much what they say on the tin. Pre-offer open days are for those who are considering applying, while post-offer open days are for those who have already been given an offer and are deciding whether or not to accept.
While the programmes for both may be quite similar, it is important that you try to attend both in order to give yourself the best opportunity possible to make the decision that’s right for you.