The key questions to ask at a university open day

by Anita Naik

University open days are moving from virtual models to real-life ones, giving you the chance to find your best option for a course and uni place in 2022. Here's how to get the most out of a university open day.

Open days are always a good idea before you choose any university. They allow you to find out what it's like to study at a specific university but help to give you a real feel of the location and staff who will be teaching you. Attending in person also gives you the opportunity to:

1. Get subject information delivered by academic staff to provide you with a real taste of the courses on offer.

2. Talk to current students about student life.

3. Take a tour of campus and the town.

4. See halls of residences in person.

5. Speak to advisors and find out about finance, bursaries, scholarships, and student support

6. Ask your questions about placement options.

7. Chat to the Students' Union and meet representatives from our clubs and societies.

Make the course top of your open day priority list

The top takeaway from any open day should be about the course. You need to gain as much information as you can about the course to work out if it's something you want to do. For this reason, do ensure that you sign up for subject talks, a lecture, and talk to students and lecturers in the department.

The Uni Guide has some top questions to ask of course lecturers at an open day, including:

1. What grades do you need?

2. Is it worth applying for more than one course?

3. How do they select which candidates?

4. Is there an opportunity to study abroad or do a work placement?

5. How much contact time will there be with lecturers each week?

Also, be sure to ask lecturers where the strengths of the department lie, whether that's the quality of teaching staff or the methods, facilities and extracurricular opportunities.

You also need to find out what the course covers, how the lectures are given (online or in-person), how big tutorial groups are and how the course is marked in terms of exams and course work? All these answers will give you a clearer idea of whether this course and department are for you or not.

Remember speaking to the people who will be teaching you will give you the biggest clue as to whether you are making the right decision or not. Don't be afraid to make a judgement call based on your encounter with lecturers. Also talk to other visitors on the open day to see if they are your kind of people, as you will be studying with them for three years or more.

Talk to other students at the university

The next must-do on any open day is to talk to students currently on the course you are interested in and at the university in general. This will give you a more realistic view of what life is like on campus and how day to day student life is in this location. Be sure to ask:

1. What do they like and dislike about the course?

2. What do they feel could be improved on the course?

3. What do they enjoy about university life?

4. What do they think about the location/town/city?

5. How do they feel about the level of security on campus?

6. What are their views on the accommodation on offer?

7. What do they love about the student societies and clubs and the nightlife?

Finally, beyond the course and student life, do factor in practical considerations that will affect your time at university and should also influence your decision.

1. How far is the university from the train station or your hometown?

2. Is there parking if you drive to campus.

3. How good is the student support and help for finances and mental health?

4. How good is the security on campus and in halls of residences?

5. Are there options to change classes if you are unhappy?

For information on online open days, see our post on Virtual Open Days.