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How to prepare for a university open day

The best way to find out if a university is right for you is to see for yourself. And open days let you do just that.

Held at different dates throughout the year, they’re a day when universities open up their campuses for you and your family to explore. They give you a chance to get a feel for the place. An opportunity to see where you’ll live, what facilities they offer and, most importantly, to meet future lecturers and ask them lots of questions about your course.

So before you attend, let’s delve into everything you need to know to prepare for a university open day.

Staff explaining a course leaflet to a student. The staff member is wearing an Edge Hill tabard

1. How should I plan my open day visit?

Once you have registered to attend you will receive an open day schedule by email, usually the week before. This will tell you everything you need to know to help you prepare for an open day, including what time key information sessions, campus tours, facilities tours, accommodation tours and subject talks will take place. Prioritise subject content first. Hear about modules and your department. Chat to the people who will actually be teaching you, as well as current students for a real insight into what life on the course is like. After this, plan your day around what else you want to see. Don’t forget to visit the Student Experience Fair to speak to support staff in finance or careers, and to find out what societies, sports clubs and extra-curricular opportunities are available.

Before you go, plan how you will get there and how long it will take. Does the university have a car park? What’s the nearest train or bus stop? Will you be staying overnight? If you’re taking public transport check timetables and how far stops are from campus. Book transport and accommodation in advance. Edge Hill is located in Ormskirk and is well connected by train to Liverpool and Preston and has free onsite parking for open day visitors. If you get chance, set some time aside to explore the local area off campus as well. It’s important that the area itself is a place that you’ll enjoy and be comfortable living in for the next three to four years.

2. Should I bring someone with me to an open day?

It may be helpful to bring a friend or family member with you to get their opinion and support. They might think about questions or point out things that you miss or forget to ask on the day. They will have your best interests at heart and will want to know that the place you choose is affordable, safe and suitable for you. It’s important to remember though that wherever you choose to study is your decision.

3. What should I pack for an open day?

It’s a good idea to bring your open day pack with you so you have a campus map, schedule, and your confirmation email to hand. At Edge Hill, your confirmation email will contain a barcode that will be scanned on arrival at registration, or you will receive a ticket once you have booked in the post. Key information will often be available in booklets, but it’s useful to take a notepad with you to jot anything down on the day, such as the answers to any questions you ask so you can refer back to any information after the event. A portable phone charger also may be useful if you plan on taking lots of photos and videos too. And, lastly, expect to be doing lots of walking so don’t forget to wear a comfortable pair of shoes.

4. What questions should I ask at an open day?

Lecturers. Students. Support staff. They will be on-hand all day. Prepare for an open day by having a few questions ready in advance to ask them. Here are some questions that you might want to ask about the campusaccommodation or your course as a starting point.

Campus questions:

  1. What does the local town/city have to offer?
  2. What support does the university offer – for your wellbeing, academic or individual needs?
  3. What funding opportunities are available?
  4. What’s the Students’ Union like – what sports clubs and societies are available?
  5. What facilities are there on and off campus?

Course questions:

  1. How is the course assessed? (coursework, exams, practicals, presentations, group work)
  2. How many teaching hours does the course have?
  3. What modules are compulsory and optional – are there any work placements or study abroad opportunities?
  4. What careers have recent graduates gone on to?
  5. What qualities or experience are they looking for in your personal statement?

Accommodation questions:

  1. How and when do you need to apply for accommodation?
  2. Are there catered and self-catered options?
  3. How many weeks of the year are covered by the halls contract?
  4. What extra facilities are there, such as a laundrette or shops?
  5. What accommodation is available off-campus?
Family looking around Edge Hill campus, lake in the background

5. What happens if I can’t attend an open day?

Don’t worry if you can’t attend. Universities offer lots of different ways for you to find out more about your course and campus life. At Edge Hill, for example, we offer monthly campus tours.  Led by a student guide, they’re a great way to see what campus is like on a typical day and an opportunity to speak to a current student. You can also attend a virtual open day. You’ll be able to watch pre-recorded presentations to learn more about your subject and take 360 tours of campus, facilities, and accommodation. To get your questions answered, we also run regular live chat events to answer any specific questions you might have about your course or the application process. And if it’s a real insight into student life that you’re after, you can join a chat with one of our current students to find out what it’s like to be part of our student community.

6. What happens after an open day?

Things shouldn’t end as soon as you leave campus. Take time to reflect on the day. Can you picture yourself living there? How did being on campus make you feel? Talk about the day with your friends and family. Read back through your notes and weigh up any pros and cons about studying there – this will be useful when deciding which universities to apply to, or whether there is anything else you want to find out about. If there’s something you forgot to ask on the day you can always get in touch with the university. You may even want to sign up for another open day for a second look before you apply.

Open days are a fantastic opportunity to help you plan your future. To help you imagine what the next three to four years of your life will look like. Not just where you will live and study. But the place where you will grow. So, get ready to find out what uni life is all about. And if you haven’t booked your place already, check out our open day dates for 2022.


Family on an open day tour

To find out what an Edge Hill open day is like on the day, current student Max tells us all about his open day experience and what you can expect.