If you’re thinking about applying to university in the UK, you’ll know that you only have 5 choices of course/university to apply to through UCAS. However, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to make this choice!
When it comes to picking your university choices, there are a range of things that can help you to decide, whether that’s your own criteria, reviews from people you know or online or something else entirely. One of the things that can help you to decide which universities you want to apply to (and which you don’t) is by going to university open days. However, with all of their pros and cons, you might be wondering if you really need to go to a university open day and if they’re worth it at all.
In short, deciding whether or not a university open day is worth it is up to you. Look at the following table for some of the pros and cons of university open days in that will be discussed in more detail later on in the article.
|Allows you to talk to students.||Can be costly for transport and other additional costs.|
|Can tell you more about your course.||Mostly presents the positives, the negatives may be hidden.|
|Can let you get a feel for the university.||Can be time consuming.|
There are so many different things that you should consider when deciding if going to an open day really is worth it for you. Continue reading to get more insight into university open days, including what to expect at an open day and how much they cost.
Table of Contents
What are university open days in the UK?
First of all, let’s go through what a university open day actually is. This is just to check that we’re all on the same page before we get further into this topic.
To put it simply, a university open day is an event for prospective university students. At these events, prospective students have a chance to get to know the university that they are thinking about applying to.
For example, they will have the opportunity to look around the campus, check out the facilities and accommodations, learn more about their course and talk to real students. This can help them to make their own decision about whether or not to apply to the university. To learn more about what a university open day is, check out this Think Student article.
What is the point of a university open day?
Now that we’ve talked through what a university open day is, you may be wondering what the point of one is. Learning more about this can help you to decide whether a university open day would be a good idea for you.
The point of a university open day is very simply to help prospective students to decide if they want to go to a university by visiting it. In UCAS’ own words it is “the best way to get […] one step closer to finding your ideal course and uni”. For more on this, check out this page on the UCAS website.
At the same time, the event is a way for the university to market itself to prospective students. In this way, the university will be actively trying to show you all the pros of studying with them. Due to this, it could be argued that university open days aren’t that worth it as you may be getting a one-sided experience that only focuses on the positives of the university.
Despite this, it does still give you a chance to see what these positives are for a university that you’re thinking about applying to. For more on an open day being a marketing event, check out this article by Owlcation.
What should you expect at a university open day in the UK?
As previously mentioned, the whole point of going to a university open day is to get a feel for the university and to use it to help you decide if you want to study there. However, you may be wondering what part of an open day can actually help you to do this.
First of all, university open days will tend to run from about 10am, sometimes a bit earlier or later, to about 3pm or 4pm. However, some universities may also have their event start later on and so these would run into the evening. For more information about this, check out this article by What Uni?.
What is actually involved in a university open day will slightly vary from university to university as they will each have their own way of doing things. Despite this, there are some key characteristics of university open days that they tend to share, which you can see in the following sections below.
Subject talks and sessions with lecturers at university open days
Having been to a few of these myself, I can tell you that they can be really useful. Sometimes these may come in the form of taster sessions and other times the lecturer is just telling you about the course itself.
Either way, they can help you to decide why you want to study that specific course rather than a slightly different one. Also, it can help you to compare between universities in their course offering, such as to do with contact hours, the workload and the types of modules.
Support with your application at university open days
Some universities will run clinics for your personal statement and other times they may have talks or sessions about writing a good personal statement or about other parts of the application process. These can be really useful, particularly if you’re not sure where to start or if you just need a bit more support.
Sessions run by the students’ union at university open days
Unlike other aspects of the university open day, the sessions run by the students’ union wouldn’t really be focused on your studies at all. Instead, they would focus more on student life and aspects outside of your studies.
You may get to learn more about societies and clubs available at the university, events run throughout the year and other opportunities that you can get at the university outside of your course.
Sessions run by the student wellbeing team at university open days
The sessions run by the student wellbeing team can be great as they allow you to learn more about the support services available at university. These can be particularly reassuring (for both you and your parents/ guardians) as you can find out about how you will be looked after.
From my university open day experience, I found that sometimes they also may be in the form of information booths, where you can directly talk to members of the student wellbeing team.
Guided tours around campus and student accommodation
The guided tour around the campus can be a great way for you to get a feel for the whole place (and to not get lost during the open day). In this, you can learn more about where each building is, the size of these and more about the facilities the university has in general.
Student accommodation tours can help you to imagine yourself actually living at the university and deciding if it is actually somewhere you can see yourself. They can also be incredibly informative when thinking about prices and what features you will want when you go to university.
For more information about the above features of a university open day, you can check out this page on the University of Greenwich’s website.
Do university open days cost money?
For the event itself, university open days are free and won’t cost you any money. This is likely due to the fact that universities want to attract you to their university rather than others and so don’t charge for open days to make you more inclined to visit and to choose them.
For more about whether or not university open days are free and possible reasons for this, check out this Think Student article.
What costs are involved with university open days?
However, while the open day itself does not cost you any money, there may still be other costs involved. These other costs include your transport to get to the open day as well as any extra costs for when you actually get there.
In terms of transport, going to a university open day will obviously be more expensive the further away you go. If the open day is within your local area, then you could simply get on a bus or take a short drive to the university, which will obviously not but that costly. In fact, you could even decide to walk and thus you wouldn’t have to worry about these costs at all.
However, if you’re going further away, you might find that you need to take the train or have a much longer car journey. These can be quite costly, especially if you’re looking to travel 5 hours away or even more from where you live. Due to this, you may find that going to university open days that are further away aren’t worth it as the transportation costs can be very high.
When you actually get to the university open day, there can also be extra costs that you find may make the day a bit more expensive. For example, you might find that you want to get a drink or some food. Alternatively, you may want to buy a souvenir from the university.
As these little costs can add up, particularly when considering transport, you may decide that as a result going to the university open day isn’t worth it for you. However, even if you do feel this way, there is still the option of virtual open days.
Virtual open days are done online, and you can access them through a phone or laptop. Due to this, you won’t have to face the same costs as for a regular open day, which can make it feel a lot more worth it. For more information about virtual open days, check out this guide by UCAS.
How long do you spend at a university open day?
As mentioned above, university open days will typically run from about 10am to about 4pm, although this will vary for each university. You can find this information by clicking on this link to the What Uni? website.
However, there is no set time that you have to spend at an open day and depending on how you decide to plan your day it can vary greatly. For example, if you only want to go to a few different sessions and one tour, you’re going to spend much less time at the open day than someone who is planning to go to 10 different talks and sessions and 3 or 4 tours.
Despite this, you will probably spend a couple of hours at the open day in order to make the most out of it. Some universities even tell you to be prepared to spend the full day there. For more information about this, check out this page on the University of Oxford website.
When considering whether or not a university open day is worth going to, you may want to consider the time you spend there. If you are quite a busy person, who has lots of other commitments, you may find that going to an open day isn’t worth it as it can take you away from the other things you have to do. Otherwise, if you can make the time, you may find that going to a university open day and spending the whole day there is worth it.
How many university open days should you go to?
There are no set limits on the number of open days that you should go to. Due to this, deciding how many you should go to is more based on your personal preferences and how worth it you deem them to be.
When considering the pros and cons that have already been considered in this article about university open days, going to fewer open days can end up being more worth it. This is so that you won’t have as many expenses and so that you can be more focused with comparing fewer universities than you would be if you had lots to compare.
Personally, I went to my top 3 choices’ open days in person and another one of my choices’ open days virtually. While this worked for me and really did help me to make my decision, you may want to do it completely differently, which is fine as well.