You’ve spent hours poring over university or college prospectuses and taking notes on the courses you fancy. Now it’s time to see the place for yourself. You are going to be living and studying there, so it’s important that you are 100% happy with your new surroundings.
To help you make the right decision, many universities and colleges hold open days throughout the year which give you a chance to meet the tutors, explore the campus, ask questions and get a feel for your new student life. Open days are for school pupils, college students, parents, teachers, careers advisers and anyone interested in studying. Many institutions offer presentations, talks and displays as well as chats with academics, members of university staff and current students. You can learn more about the range of degrees available and find out about admissions, accommodation and most importantly, job prospects.
Whether you’ve been to your destination before or not, it is important to plan ahead to avoid travel chaos. Many places only hold one open day so you don’t want to miss it because you got the wrong train! Take your time to write out your journey details and make full your phone is fully charged in case you need to check the Scotrail app or bus times. Make sure you have either a physical map or a map app on your phone which is easy to navigate. As for who you go with, you may be tempted to go with a pal but if they don’t have the same academic ambitions as you, their company might be distracting. You have plenty time to spend with friends at home but this day is about you and your future so we recommend you take the plunge and go it alone.
Talk to the expert
Speaking to prospective tutors is a great way of finding out whether the course is right for you. Courses prospectuses have limited space to describe what your academic journey will involve so the best thing to do is speak to the expert! You plan on dedicating a large amount of time to the course so you deserve to know exactly what it entails. Tutors and heads of departments can usually be found at clearly marked stands and will be bursting with enthusiasm to tell you all about what the course can offer you. And who knows? Maybe you’ll spot a stall or find out about a course which is more suitable for you and completely change your mind! Remember to bring a notepad so you don’t forget any of the information tutors give you and don’t forget to help yourself to free goodies like pens and stickers – they are there for you!
Take a tour
Having a look around campus will allow you to fully imagine your new living and learning environment, and it is crucial that you take the time to do this. Lots of institutions offer tours led by current students, which is a great way to get information first-hand from people who have lived the experience. Use this opportunity to ask them all about their time in halls and on campus – the good and the bad! Ask how far it is to the nearest supermarket, the library, the gym and the closest pubs and clubs. Set your mind (and you mum’s) at ease by asking what happens if there is an incident or emergency. Who can you speak to about safety? You don’t have to be accompanied for these tours of course – feel free to have a look around at your own pace. And always remember to take a camera or capture a few pics on your phone so you don’t forget what you’ve seen!
Explore other facilities
The student union or social hub will be an important part of your life as a new student. It’s where you’ll meet new friends and have the chance to discover events and activities advertised on notice boards. Look at posters around the union – from cheesy pop nights and quizzes to hot debates, unions are your go-to place for enhancing your social life. Ask if they have a canteen, coffee shop, or bar nearby too. If you want to continue a hobby or find a new one, you won’t believe the number of active clubs and societies at some institutions. From dance and football to Pokémon card appreciation and ultimate Frisbee, the possibilities are endless. Are you a fitness fanatic? Find out where the gym is and ask about membership. If you are religious, ask where the nearest suitable place of worship is for you. And if you plan to drive or cycle, check out cycle racks and car parking nearby. Of course, some higher education institutions are small and won’t have all the facilities you are looking for but ask anyway, you might be surprised!
For open days, most institutions ask you to book a space in advance so check out their website to see if you need to register and avoid missing out! Also bear in mind that different departments may have different open days so do your research before going – don’t just tag along with a pal.
Unfortunately not all universities and colleges offer open days but don’t worry! Most establishments are happy to show you around at any time of the year. Simply call to arrange a visit.
Every campus is unique and has its own great qualities and facilities to be explored. But you have to see it to believe it. Find out when the open day is for your target uni or college and discover so much more about the full learning experience there.
Check out a full list of upcoming open days across Scotland here.