The more students plan ahead and prepare before attending an Open Day, the more they will get out of it. It’s like doing your research before visiting a new city or country. You need to know what to look for, what are some of the special features and where to go.
Before heading off to an Open Day, there are some important things to do and think about to ensure you get the most from your visit.
Plan your visit
Always check institution WEBSITES before your visit. Most have calendars of events with times and location of presentations and workshops so that students can pick and choose those that most appeal to them before arriving. Sometimes it’s necessary to book a place in certain workshops or presentations. You don’t want to miss out. This is a great way to also discover new courses students didn’t even know existed or gain greater insights into courses already under consideration.
It’s a great idea to set your alarm and arrive at your chosen institution early in the morning rather than later. Most Open Days are held between 10am and 4pm. Arrive early and beat the rush. You’ll have a greater chance of actually chatting with current students, lecturers and heads of faculties. If you wait until later in the day, the crowds are usually enormous and you will be waiting in long queues to speak to institution reps and current students.
Don’t just take publications and walk away. The people at the displays are generally very happy to answer questions and if they don’t have the answers, they will tell you how to find them. Write a list of questions you want answered before you go. It’s too easy to forget the most important question you want answered.
Talk to current students
Current students can give priceless insights into courses. Students often give as much information as the university staff. And they can talk about aspects of the university that really interest students. ‘How hard is it to actually get a car park?’ ‘Is it true that it’s really hard to get employment after this course?’ ‘What’s the social life like here?’
There are often interactive displays and hands-on workshops. They really are worth the time and a lot of fun.
Never forget to take down the name and phone/email contact details of staff who are particularly helpful. Ask for a business card. You may need to re-contact these people at a later date if you have further questions. Later on, students could also email further questions which would help them stand out from the crowd. Remember, many of the people you will meet at Open Days are the very people who will be selecting students for these courses.
Students can’t go to every Open Day. They should talk to friends and help each other by sharing information, publications and staff contact details.
Allow time to walk around the campus
A typical university or TAFE campus is generally huge and sometimes spread out over a number of streets. By downloading a map prior to visiting, students can make sure they have seen most of the campus. Sometimes finding that dream course is a matter of luck. By seeing most faculties in an institution rather than limiting themselves to one or two, students maximise their chances of discovering a course display or presentation that really appeals to them.
- Look at everything; university facilities, open spaces and gardens, buildings, shops, libraries, cafes, car parks…
- Don’t forget to investigate clubs and societies available. Students make most of their friends by joining some of the exciting social clubs.
Check public transport to the institution
How easy it is to travel to the institution? Where do busses stop? Trains? Trams? Are there any car parks available for students?
Final things for students to consider…
- Do I have a good feeling about this institution? Does it seem to be a welcoming and friendly place?
- Do I really like this course, the subjects and special features?
- What support is offered to students at this institution? (Free academic support and counselling? Free financial advice? Mentoring for first year students? Help finding graduate employment?)
- Are current students happy and excited to talk about their courses and their overall university experience?