How To Approach University Open Days?

If you're considering university (or college in America) then you probably will be attending an open day sooner or later. An open day is very much similar to open evenings in your high school or sixth form, where potential students (you) and parents can view the university and ask questions. However, what do you ask? how do you plan it? And what to expect? All questions I was asking when attending open days. Student to student, blogger to a reader, friend to friend, here is how I approached it and you can too.

*Please note, you should do as you wish with open days, this is just my experience and same friendly advice*

Bristol University - Courtesy of Google
Firstly, "When should you start?" was a question that no one answered to me! Strange since nearly everyone was asking this exact questions. But from my experience, you should start in year 12 as it will give you a comfortable amount of time to select the university's you wish to visit, as a mistake I made was leaving it to the last 5 months and having only the very last open days left. It was chaos. So chaotic in fact, I haven't had the time to actually visit the university I was rather curious in as I double booked an open day! In case you're wondering it was Southampton and Northhampton.

Generic Book Picture from Tumblr 

After you've selected all the university's you wish to see, I highly recommend getting a calendar and writing in the dates of each day. This was extremely useful for me to remember when each visit was, as you can book a place months in advance and you'd be surprised how quickly you'll forget. Do not fret if you forget about an open day, as I found most universities send you an welcoming pack a week before or an E-mail with a brochure.

When the open day approaches, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activities and talks and tours and even lunch zones, you should plan out the whole day a couple days before. This is how I set out my plan:
Checklist: Water | Notebook | Pen | Money | Ticket
(Arrival Time) '10am' -Go to point A on map & register.
Welcoming Talk '10:15'
Free time 10:30-11 - Close to stands, talk to students
11:15 - 12:30 English talk & Taster lecture - Go to the room early, point C on map
12:30-:13:00 Grab lunch from point B
13:00-14:00 Tour accommodations
(Leaving time 14:00) compose a list of any remaining questions n the way back and email it tomorrow morning.
Having this secure structure, and adapting it for varied open days really eased my mind and was relaxing to know exactly what and when t is happening. This stopped me having any anxiety about getting lost or missing any important talks that I wanted to go to. 

St Johns College, Cambridge - Google

Now, you've arrived at the open day what do you do?

Usually, the first step is to register with a ticket sent prior to your arrival at a central area. This should be your first target area. From my experience, this was quick and only lasted 2-5 minutes. (Plus this is where you get the freebies)

Another worry of mine was the taster lectures. Reoccuring in my mind was one question "Will I be asked to speak?" and from my experience no. Usually, there will be 50-250 people in one room and a normal style lecture will proceed, where YOU can ask questions at the end.

Next, you may be able to talk to admission staff, lectures and finance advice. (Psst, to save your time, go to one universities' fiance talk as they were all the same when I went) However, thinking of questions is hard and although it should be personal, here are some I've used;
  • Could you talk me through the structure of the course?
  • How is it assessed?
  • What are the contact hours like?
  • What graduate job percentage is the university?
  • What makes this University unique?
Accommodation is crucial, as you probably will live there for at least a year. Hence, going on a tour is very wise in my opinion. This is usually in smaller groups, led by a student to one or two locations. However, they're usually rather time-consuming, therefore you should get the more important stuff done first, like talking to admission staff and lectures.

Finally, you must remember to have a break and gobble up some food. This will give you a nice walk around the city or town the university is as you search for a nice cafe or restaurant to have a meal, letting you learn the vibe of the place and potentially find your future go-to coffee shop.

There you have it. This is how I approached open days and if you wish, you may too. Feel free to ask me any questions or queries you may have by commenting below, emailing me or tweeting.

Hope to see you back soon



  1. That is some perfect, simple planning right there, Martin. I love it. I can't plan for crap, but that's the sort of note taking/basic planning I can manage. (Checklist is a brilliant idea.)

    Ahhh -- I've got no university/college plans until I know what I'd want to study, but how freaking cool would it be to attend one of those old places, to walk across a bridge like at St John's every day? And Britain has some truly beautiful, historic choices. :)

    Great little breakdown of your open days! Bet this will help quite a few students-to-be.

    1. Also, that St John's College bridge gives me major Harry Potter vibes lol.


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