In the UK, applying to university can be an incredibly difficult process. You have to get the subjects, the grades and your personal statement all right to fit the entry requirements for your dream course. Plus, you only get 5 chances!
With these 5 chances, you have to make sure that you pick the right options for you so that you’re not stuck on a degree for 3+ years at a university that you don’t enjoy.
But from one prospective university student to another, there are plenty of ways to figure out what these are. One of the best ways is to go to university open days.
In short, a university open day is an event for prospective university students. This can be for both undergraduate and postgraduate prospective 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.
Continue reading to learn more about open days from whether they are free to when they even are. This article can help you to decide for yourself about whether you should go to an open day by outlining the key facts and their pros and cons.
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What are university open days in the UK?
If you live in the UK and are a prospective university student, it is likely that you have heard of open days. However, without the context, it can be difficult to figure out what it actually means.
To put it simply, a university open day is an event that universities hold to open their doors to prospective students. This means that at open days, students who want to go to the university can get to know what it’s all about.
This event allows students to look around the campus and see the facilities, especially for the course they’re interested in. As well as to learn more about the courses and student life at the university from lecturers as well as current students.
For more information about what university open days are, check out this guide by What Uni.
When are university open days in the UK?
Exactly when a university open day is will depend on which university you are looking at. However, university open days are normally in the same time period as each other.
This is typically between July and October, but it may also be slightly earlier or slightly later based on what each university chooses.
In the UK, every university will hold at least one open day. This means knowing the dates to each of the ones you are interested in is important to not miss them.
To find out you can look at a university’s website. Alternatively, you can look on UCAS to see a list of upcoming ones here. To learn more about the general time period that university open days are held in, check out this article by Reed.
Do parents go to university open days?
University open days are for prospective university students. This also means that it is not particularly essential for parents to go to university open days. However, if it is possible, then having a parent with the student at an open day can be a great help.
Having the support of your parent or guardian at an open day can be a great idea. Not only is this due to their help in getting you to the university, whether that be for driving you down there or helping you not miss the train.
Parents or guardians can also provide emotional support to help you not get too overwhelmed and they can be there to ask all the right questions.
However, as mentioned above having parents there isn’t particularly essential. After all, university open days are a chance for all prospective students, whether that be for undergraduate or postgraduate courses, to have a chance to get to visit a university that they are interested in applying to.
This means that you can go to a university open day regardless of your age as long as you are a prospective student. If you are a bit older and may be considered a “mature student” you may not even feel the need to have your parents come with you.
All in all, the choice of who you bring to your university open day is up to you, whether that be parents, friends, another family member or just going by yourself. For some more advice about who to bring, check out this article by The UniGuide.
Are university open days free?
University open days act as a marketing event for universities. This is because it gives them a chance to bombard you with why their university is the greatest and why you should choose them over the other 163 universities in the UK.
For more information about the number of universities in the UK, check out this page by Statista, please note that these figures are correct up to 2022. Also, if you want more about the marketing side of an open day, check out this article from Owlcation.
Due to this, a university open day is as much for you as it is for them. The way I see it, making you pay for an open day would be counterintuitive for universities as it would attract less people and would send the wrong message.
To be explicit, yes, university open days are free.
While you don’t have to pay to attend the event itself, you may find that there are other costs involved. The main cost in this case is for travel. This is particularly concerning if you want to check out a university that’s a bit further away from you.
With rising petrol costs and already high train costs, simply getting to open days can make your pocket significantly lighter. Of course, this will depend on how far you have to travel.
On top of that, there are the costs for when you actually get there. These may include the costs for buying any food or drinks at the university if not provided for you.
To learn a little more about these costs and how to avoid spending so much, check out this article by Save The Student.
Is it worth going to university open days?
Deciding whether or not going to a university open day is worth it will fully depend on you and what you prioritise. It will also depend on where the university is in relation to you.
However, there are still some overarching pros and cons that most prospective students will be able to apply to their own decision of whether to go to a university open day. To learn what these are, check out the following sections of the benefits and drawbacks.
What are the benefits of university open days?
At a university open day, you will be able to see how the university works, learn more about what is taught and how as well as learning more about student life from real students.
This human connection element of an open day can make it all the more rewarding. This it is because unlike other ways you can learn about the university, such as their website or prospectus. You have the opportunity to make personal connections, making it easier to figure out what you like and what you don’t.
University open days can also help you to get a feel for the university, which can help you to figure out if it’s the right place for you. This is especially because you may even be able to imagine yourself within that environment.
This is so important as you only have a limited number of places you can apply for. At undergraduate level, you only have 5 options. This means that you have to be sure that you’ve chosen the right ones.
On top of that, you may be able to use a university open day to figure out what to put on your personal statement. This is because of you ask professors or maybe even students that you come across about wider reading or other activities that you can do in your subject area to enhance your studies.
You may be able to put these on your personal statement after completing them. This can help to boost both your application and your own knowledge within your subject.
While these are benefits that I’ve personally experienced, you can also learn more about these and others in this UCAS article. For more information about how many universities you can apply to, check out this Think Student article.
What are the drawbacks of university open days?
While a university open day can be great, it can also bring its own troubles and in the end, it can feel like more of a hassle than anything good.
This is especially if you intend to visit a university open day that is slightly further from you but does not only apply to this. This is because it can make taking the time out and even securing your transport an absolute nightmare.
Also, as mentioned above, university open days can still leave you with plenty of costs while being free themselves. The main cost involved is typically transport and booking hotels if you would need to stay over.
Simply the hassle of having to get yourself to the open day as well as all those hidden costs, may put you off going, or it may make you think negatively of that specific open day. It can you leave you wondering whether going to the open day is worth it at all.
While it makes sense for you to say no, before you do so, I would recommend that you plan it all out beforehand. This will give you a chance to see if going to the open day would really be that much of a hassle.
Plus, if you end up booking a train, hotel, or anything that you will need, in advance it could end up cheaper. Also, to limit the amount of hassle of open days, you can select the two maybe three that you really want to go to.