With the summer heading our way, some of you are going to be attending open days with us here in Birmingham and up and down the country, and if you’ve never been before, you might be wondering how you can get the most out of visiting a university for the first time, so here are some tips from me!
What to bring:
• Comfy shoes for the tours!
• Plenty to eat and drink (although there are loads of great places around on campus, they do get busy quickly!)
• A notebook and some pens (so you can look back and compare when deciding which universities you’d like to apply to)
Attend as many talks as you can
These aren’t always the most interesting parts of an Open Day, but they’re so important for making your choices! Definitely visit the Department you’d like to study in and attend their talks or taster sessions.
There are also some very useful talks from the University staff on topics like Accommodation, Finance, Student Life and Experience, Sport and much more! These often end up being the things that can make or break your university choices, so check them out too.
Go on Tours!
Accommodation varies greatly between universities, so check out the different types that each University offers. When I came to Birmingham, I visited Jarratt Hall, an en-suite and self-catered hall, which I loved! I thought there was a great atmosphere, a good-sized kitchen and bathroom and enough storage space for everything I needed. Although I didn’t end up at Jarratt, it helped me decide that I wanted to be self-catered (and learn to cook) and have my own bathroom.
Make sure you consider things like the distance from campus, the size of rooms and kitchens, the social spaces, the distance from shops and the town or city centre.
Campus tours are the best opportunity you’ll have to explore the university, so I’d definitely try and find time for one! A current student will take you around the campus, talk about the University’s history, plans for the future and show you the facilities on offer. A highlight on all of our campus tours is visiting our clock tower Old Joe for the first time and hearing some very interesting facts about it, and seeing the amazing new Main Library for the first time (which is in the cover photo!).
On Campus Tours, you should also check out what kind of facilities are on offer (from study spaces to gyms), what their Student Union or Guild of Students does, what Societies they offer and the support services offered by universities for students (like mental health and disability support, or academic support)
Speak to Staff and Students
The students who are studying, and the staff who are teaching the subject you’ll be applying for are by far the most useful source of info at an Open Day! So head over to their stand at the information fair and ask any burning questions!
Staff are the best people to ask about course content, teaching & assessment methods and opportunities for work placements or study abroad. Getting current student’s views on the course is so valuable, as they’re in the position you hope to be in, so make sure you chat to them at an Information stand or ask a question in a talk or Q&A session. They’ll also be a good source of info for issues like cost of living and nightlife, so don’t think you just have to talk about the course!
Finally, if you have some spare time on your way home, head into the city centre, or wander around campus for yourself, to see how busy it is, what kinds of shops are on offer, how cheap public transport it, and get a feel for the atmosphere on campus and in the city centre (this might sound a bit odd, but I think when you visit a university that you love, you’ll know because you feel at home and at ease there).
The experience at Open Days really differs from person to person, so you won’t find all of these useful or necessary – feel free to take some of these ideas when you start heading to these kinds of events this year!
You can find out more and book your place on an open day at Birmingham here!
If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch with me on Instagram!
Thanks for reading, best of luck with your Open Day visits, and I hope to meet some of you there this year!