student life

University Open Days: Help or Hindrance?

With limited places available, record levels of applications and tuition fees triple what they were four years ago, gaining a position at University is becoming increasingly difficult. It is no wonder, therefore, that Universities around the country open their doors numerous times a year to entice prospective waves of new students. However, how beneficial these open days actually are is becoming increasingly questionable. Are they a true representation of the University lifestyle or are they simply a staged production to encourage maximum applicants? 

Attend with caution

University open days have been on the rise for a number of years now, and with this is mind they have become progressively specialized and professional affairs. With the obvious intention of recruiting future students to the establishment, academia and subject matter are placed at the forefront of the open day. Subject campus tours, subject talks and taster sessions are put on throughout the day in order for students to gain a real feel for their subject. This is an incredibly useful way of finding out about the subject you wish to take and making the all-important decision of choosing your University.

However, the reality of these sessions is often doubted: are they really an accurate representation of the way your University experience will run? As a prospective student, you must always keep in mind that an open day is a key marketing strategy for the University and you’re going to see the best of the best at these open days!  

Parental guidance

Included in these days are a number of sessions that are typically aimed towards the people that will be bank rolling your stay at University. With the tuition fees standing presently at £9000 a year it is inevitable that Universities feel it is their responsibility to provide financial discussions and information to calm any nerves from parents. But while this sounds like a positive aspect of the open day, it can also have negative effects on prospective students! These discussions help to sway your parents towards a University that you may not necessarily wish to attend and it can put unwanted pressure on prospective students, forcing them to choose a University based on their parent’s wishes and ignoring what they want for themselves. University open days are designed to persuade you to choose their establishment, and what better way to get you on board than to have your parents already on their side. 

Selected viewings

Ultimately you’ve attended an open day to see what they can offer you in terms of academia, and unfortunately this often overshadows the concerns that are faced in regards to accommodation. Again it cannot be overlooked that you only get to see the best student halls that the University has to offer! You will by no means get to witness the hairy bathroom that’s shared between 8 students and the kitchen that nobody has ventured in to for the last term! Accommodation tours are often the shortest and are normally self or student-led, which means there are limited experts to whom you can pose important queries. This means that students may go away with unanswered questions and concerns over where they could be living. 

University open days can be one of the most helpful tools that you have when deciding which establishment that you want to attend. However, like with all things, you have to be aware that you sometimes have to put in a little work yourself to get the most out of it. If you attend knowing what you want to achieve, and knowing what questions you want answering then you’ll find it incredibly useful. But the same vast amounts of information which can be extremely useful, can also intense and daunting! Make sure you attend with an open mind but also a careful eye – things may not be all that they seem!

What do you think? Have you been to an Open Day where you felt like you were being falsely sold the university experience? How could they be improved? Comment below!