This time of year means a few things but arguably the two most important are a) mince pies are back in shops and b) the youth are back at school! The importance of those varies depending on how hungry I am but, in all seriousness, let’s talk school and, in particular, the big scary world of University.
I’m saying the phrase “big scary world” with sparkling jazz hands because, yes, the notion of it all is absolutely petrifying but it’s nothing we’ve not gone through before so there is no need to panic whether you’re just starting your first week or you’re getting into the swing of applying, there are plenty of things you can do – as discussed in another article here on ART31 – so we’re going to talk Open Days!
The January deadline looms for UCAS application and, if you ask me, the most important thing that you can do is to visit an open day because this gives you the ultimate insight to the university but there are little tips and tricks that can help you make the most of these days –
Attend your subject talk
This one is absolutely key – you need to know what you’re going to be studying in order to know whether you’ll enjoy it so there is no better way to get a feel for the course than to attend a subject talk! I know it sounds really simple because, after all, how different can a course be, am I right?
No I’m not, they can be astonishingly different with each university specialising in different areas so, if you can, have a look to see who from the industry is accrediting the courses for that added seal of authenticity and integrity.
Look at accommodation
Now there are some things that a talk just won’t do for and, let me tell you now, accommodation is one of them! Take the time to go the student accommodation, look at the different price points and really invest time into this area because if you’re going to the uni then this will be where you live for the first year.
Go one step further than that and have a look at the area around the university as a whole because you might LOVE the look of the campus but absolutely detest the outside world (I know, the OUTSIDE world). This shouldn’t be your definitive factor but, certainly, if you don’t like the area then it’s a good enough reason for not wanting to go!
Finance is finance is finance!
It’s true… finance is basically the same at whatever university you go to and it’s based on the income of your family but, don’t worry, there is also a base rate of (around) £4,000 to help you on your way. The only difference will be the offer of bursaries – which you don’t pay back – and each university has individual criteria for the awarding of these.
DON’T PANIC! There is absolutely nothing to panic about because you will NOT starve, you will NOT be homeless, you might need to be frugal and penny pinch every now and then but the best advice is to get a part time job and that’ll help you on your way!
Make notes and compare!
Depending on how good your memory is and how many universities you are taking a peak at, you might find it hard to remember what each university is like and whilst I, and many others, have found that there is often a gut feeling you get, it is always helpful to bring a pad and paper and make notes.
Even if they are short, bullet pointed sentences, write down the good things and the bad things from each university and just be as honest as you can – never feel like you’re being too negative just because you’ve travelled a fair distance to get there, if you don’t like it then you don’t like it.
That’s the basics, then, of how to get the most of a university open day – visit as many as you can, as often as you want and, most of all, be honest to yourself and go with your gut!