Sep 6, 2017, by Cayden
I'm Cayden, from London, 17 and going to uni next year! I'm looking to study Environmental Science MSci (but I’m looking for a course which offers a lot of flexibility without too much chemistry & mathematical ability). I've been to three open days so far and I have one open day left, which is at Manchester, although I’m pretty set on Lancaster Uni at the moment! Each open day I go to I learn a little bit more and I hope you find my tips useful on your own open day journey!
Travelling to open days
All of the unis I was looking at were far away from where I live, so that was a bit of a challenge for me. I made the mistake of leaving travel planning until the week before... Try not to do this!
Travelling to Leeds, we left planning until the last minute, and we ended up paying over £250 for return tickets! For the others, planning well in advance the return cost for me & a parent averaged around £120. (Travelling IS pricey if you’re going long distance by train, but chances are you’ll end up narrowing down your options to just a few so it’s just about do-able!)
If you’re booking trains, book at least 2 weeks in advance as the prices are far cheaper. Additionally, I found that booking on the train companies’ websites is often cheaper & easier. Virgin Trains has been the best long distance option for me, but I'd recommend looking extensively to strike a good time:comfort:cost ratio.
As an extra tip, for those living in London, it’s much cheaper to use your Zip Oyster card to get to the edge of London via any public trains, and only book your trains starting from and returning to there. This saved me about £80 in total!!
In my first open day, I didn’t take many pictures. I came to regret this later on. Although the uni websites have plenty of pictures of their campus, accommodation, etc, having it all in one folder with pictures you took is very helpful for later comparison. I took pics of the dorm rooms, subject classrooms, library, shops: anything that I wanted to compare with others. This helps refine your criteria and stop you confusing one uni with another!
One thing I really didn’t like was how universities try to push you into campus tours. Although these are really helpful, I personally didn’t find them essential. All the unis had people on-hand at significant locations to tell you about it anyway – they actually knew more in-depth information than the tour-guides, as they were directly associated with the landmark next to them. Just use your time effectively and have some sort of plan as to where you want to go, and you’ll manage to see it all in the end. You’re always passing tours on your walks round if you wanted to join one anyway.
No Question is Too Small
With regards to accommodation, I asked as many questions as I could to the student reps who had actually lived in each type. They give you the most honest opinion. Don’t just go by what the guidebook says: you want to know what it’s really like!
Overall, open days are much more fun and immersive than I’d thought they’d be! Ask as many questions as you can, plan your day effectively and pre-book travel as far in advance as possible, and you’ll have a great time!