Tips for Open Days

Tips for Open days

Before the day:

•      Check the Calendar of Career Events in Qualifax. Identify the ones that are relevant to you and list them in your diary.

•      Look at Courses on Colleges Website or in Qualifax

•      Get the days plan – usually on the College site. Colleges may have a timetable of talks or demonstrations planned. It is important not to miss out on the one you want.

•      Get a map of the Campus and find the locations you need before you travel.

•      What courses are you interested in? You can’t see everything on the day, so plan to see those areas that interest you.


How to prepare for open days:

•      Make a shortlist — use qualifax to help choose your favourite options.

•      Tours and talks — don't worry; you won't just be left to your own devices when you attend an open day, such as tours, talks, meet and greet sessions, and more.

•      Plan ahead — it's also a good idea to have your own agenda in mind when visiting a uni or college. Consider what you'd like to find out more about, which departments you'd like to take a look at, and prepare some questions.

•      Taster courses — got a couple of unis in mind? Why not see if they run taster courses? These are designed to give students a flavour of the course they're interested in applying to. Often they'll include a number of workshops and seminar sessions, led by academic teaching staff at the university, as well as campus and accommodation tours.

•      Careers exhibitions — They're an excellent opportunity for you to meet numerous unis and colleges in the same place at the same time. They're worth attending even if you're considering other options.

•      If you have any accessibility needs or require any additional assistance with your visit, make sure you contact the university or college disability support team – they’ll make sure you have access to everything you need on your visit, from hearing loops to ground floor accommodation tours.

•      Don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions. The answers will help you work out if the university is willing to go that extra mile to support you.

•      Go with somebody who knows you. It’s good to get a second opinion.  

•      Seek out useful people – disability services, student services, accommodation services – and say hello. If they know your face, it’s easier to ask for help when you start term.  

•      Talk to student ambassadors. The staff won’t know how noisy halls can be at 03:00, but the students will!

•      Go with your gut feeling.

Sample questions:

•      What is the average weekly timetable? This can vary hugely between Arts with 12 hours contact to Sciences with over 20.

•      Of the students that have completed this course where have they progressed?

•      What qualification will I get when I finish the course?

•      How many students will be on the course?

•      What careers have recent graduates gone on to?

•      Is there opportunity to take a placement? If so, will the university organise this?

•      What does a placement/year abroad mean and what does it do?

•      What sort of student support provision is in place? If I am having problems with the course – where can I get help? What kind of support is available from the library and student services to help with study skills?

•      What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on or off campus?

•      What sports and societies are available here?

•      How much time will I spend in lectures as opposed to self-directed study?

•      Does the university provide accommodation for all first-year students? Can you see the accommodation? What is the cost of accommodation?

•      Are there scholarships or bursaries on offer?

•      Does the course carry professional accreditation?

•      How will the degree be assessed (coursework, exams, practicals, presentations, or group work), and how are marks towards your final degree split between the years of study, and between course assignments and exams?

•      Are the core and optional modules still the same as published in the prospectus?

•      For car owners, is there much (if any) student parking, and what is the cost?

•      Are the buildings well designed and welcoming with good signage (including ‘you are here’ location maps) to help visitors find their way around the campus?

•      For those with special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, or gluten free), is there much choice in the food outlets?

•      Is the library open seven days a week?

•      How far away from the halls of residence is the nearest supermarket?

•      Is the campus well served by buses (for example, from the town/city centre, or the railway station)?


Maria Brosnan