Visiting a university open day is a crucial part of your decision-making process when choosing where to spend the next three or more years of your life. It’s a great opportunity to imagine life at the university but in order to get the most out of your day, there’s some points worth considering.

“An open day is about you, the prospective student, really getting to explore the environment in which you may soon be studying,” says Ollie Gapper, Photography student at University for the Creative Arts (UCA).

Some students from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) have shared their advice for making the most of your open days, helping you to make the most informed decision for your future studies.

  • Prepare for the day

“If you have not yet chosen the specific course you would like to do, it is best to research the different courses the universities offer,” recommends Film Production student Malika Sheikh. “Note that some courses may have similar names yet the study is completely different so make sure you know what course will suit you best.”

Think about what you want to ask of the student ambassadors, academics and general university staff before you arrive. “Write any questions or concerns you have about the course and/or the university the night before,” says Fashion Textiles: Print student Carly De Jager. “You probably won’t remember all the questions when you get there.”

“Research into the student-teacher ratios,” suggests Tamara Lenz, who is studying Digital Film & Screen Arts at UCA’s Farnham campus. “The smaller the classes are the more support you will get throughout your course.”

  • Talk to lots of people and ask questions

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk to as many current students as possible,” Fine Art student Julia highlights. “When you are walking around the university, if you see some work you like just start talking to the student whose work it is and they can give you real advice from a student’s perspective.”

Tamara urges students not to be afraid with their questioning. “Usually when one person asks a question, quite a few others are happy to hear the answer but they would have been too shy to ask. Most parents and students are shy to ask about student life when they shouldn’t be. Approach an ambassador and ask what’s on your mind!”

  • Find out about student life

Universities have a range of services available that are worth exploring at open days, as they can make a huge difference to student life. “Check out the university student union which will have information on clubs, societies and any other events that run by students for students,” recommends Malika. The SU is also something that you can get involved with once you enroll – whether it’s setting up a new society, promoting SU events or being on a committee.

Graphic Design student Agi Hristeva suggests that students should find out more about the other services available at the university. “Another thing is maybe what kind of student support is being offered, [for example]if the student has any difficulty learning or coping with the new environment or has any financial or health problems.” Universities will offer support for learning difficulties such as dyslexia, which can make a lot of difference to your degree work.

  • Go on plenty of tours

“As well as lectures, you will have opportunities to go on campus tours,” says Julia. “These are really not to be missed. When on the tour, try and imagine yourself working at the university, and if you can see yourself being happy or not.”

Photography student Eleanor Stevenson says that tours provide you with “a good general overview of the main areas and it gives you a feel of the place. Students often do [the tours]so you can ask them questions about their experience,” she says.

  • Look around the area

“An important factor is student life in the city of the university; accommodation, the whereabouts of the library (not just in the university but in the city as well), art supplies shops, printing bureaus, pharmacies, etc,” advises Agi, who studies At UCA Canterbury. “And last but not least, does it offer cultural life – clubs, bars, theatre, museums, galleries, etc.”

“If you’re not local to the campus, give yourself a little longer to wander around the surrounding areas to get a good feel of where it is you could be spending the next 3 years,” suggests UCA Rochester student Ollie.

For further information and advice or to book onto a UCA open day, please visit www.ucreative.ac.uk/opendays

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Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications. Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learnt his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky. He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs. Fresh from the editorship of Student Times he now takes the reins at Young Academic - the premier student news portal. Connect with me on Google+

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