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How to get the most out of college or university open days

When you invest in anything, you always check that it’s exactly what you want before you buy it. Choosing a university or college is just the same! Attending an Open Day lets you see it first-hand and confirm that you’re happy with it.

Visiting universities or colleges is essential if you want to be certain of making the right choice.

The visit will also help you understand what university life is like, as you’ll be shown around lecture theatres, labs, catering facilities, bars and halls of residence.

You’ll get some idea what the local area is like and how close you’ll be to various key services like train stations. It may make financial sense to apply for a 16-25 Railcard or the Young Persons Coachcard.

In short, you’ll be committing to at least three years of study when you accept a place, so both the course and the institution have to be right for you.

What do Open Days involve? 

You’ll be shown round, given a chance to look at the facilities – such as the accommodation and student union –  and encouraged to ask questions.

You can ask almost anything at an Open Day. You will be meeting people, usually current students, who can tell you first-hand about both the course and the university or college. This can be far more revealing than reading a prospectus.

Most students agree that Open Days helped them to make a more informed decision and confirm what felt right for them. Sometimes this is purely a good feeling about the place. By making an effort to ask questions when you are there, you can avoid the disappointment of starting a course and finding that it is not what you expected.

When are they?

Open Days can be any time throughout the year, but most universities and colleges have an Open Day in June.

You can find out when Open Days are by going to the UCAS website (see link below). UCAS publishes a list and updates it every Monday. Just click on the university or college you are interested in to see what Open Days are available.

UCAS also produces a publication each year, called Open Days, priced £3.50, which you can order from their online bookstore.

It contains advice and listings of Open Days, taster courses and UCAS conventions and exhibitions. You can usually pick up a free copy at most UCAS conventions and exhibitions.

Most universities and colleges publish their scheduled Open Days in their prospectus and on their websites or you can contact them direct.

Plan the day

There’ll be lots to do on the day, so get a guide to what’s happening before you go – usually available on their website. Many universities and colleges ask that you register before you visit. Sometimes there is a limit on numbers. You can then plan which talks to attend and which departments to visit.

Make a note of questions you have: about the course/s you are interested in; accommodation; and any questions regarding finance.

Decide if you want to take anyone with you. There are often talks specifically for parents and guardians.

And think about getting there! Make sure to allow plenty of travel time, as traffic can get busy on the day.

At the Open Day

During the Open Day you can take various tours, see different types of accommodation and a range of talks will be offered. There may also be subject tasters – all of this will let you sample the atmosphere.

You’ll also meet many of the lecturing staff and current students, and can ask them questions – you’ll learn much more than what’s written in a prospectus.

You may want to bring some lunch money to try out eateries on offer.

After the Open Day

After the Open Day, go through everything you learnt and contact the student recruitment office if you have more questions. They’ll be happy to help and it shows you have a real interest in studying at their university or college.

UCAS updates its list of Open Days every Monday. Find the list at

Book Open-Days 2013

University of Chester

•  Saturday 8 June 2013
•  Saturday 5 October 2013
•  Saturday 12 October 2013

Check website for further details
t: 01244 512800 e:


University of East Anglia

•  Saturday 22 June 2013
•  Friday 5 July 2013
•  Saturday 14 Sept 2013

To register, visit our website:
t: 01603 593251 e:


Liverpool Hope University

•  Wednesday 26 June 2013
•  Wednesday 11 Sept 2013
•  Saturday 5 October 2013
•  Saturday 26 October 2013

For further information please visit


University of Bristol

•  Saturday 1 June 2013
•  Wednesday 26 June 2013
•  Thursday 27 June 2013
•  Saturday 14 Sept 2013

For further information and to book your place, please visit


Liverpool John Moore University

•  Wednesday 3 July 2013
•  Saturday 5 October 2013
•  Wednesday 30 Oct 2013
•  Saturday 2 Nov 2013

Course Enquiries
0151 2315090 or


Queen Mary University of London

Our Open Day gives you a chance to find out what life is like at Central London’s only campus university.

Saturday 22 June 2013

To book, please visit


Anglia Ruskin University

•  Saturday 22 June 2013
•  Saturday 5 October 2013
•  Saturday 2 Nov 2013
call 01245 68 68 68


City of Bristol College

Wednesday 22 May 2013

To find out more email or call 0117 312 5000.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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