College open days: Ten tips to help you prepare

What you need to do to make a well-informed decision about your future

Whether it is virtual or in person, preparing in advance of  an open day is key to getting the most out of the experience. Photograph: iStock

Whether it is virtual or in person, preparing in advance of an open day is key to getting the most out of the experience. Photograph: iStock

 

1. Before participating in an open day do the basic research on the courses on offer, the methods of assessment, what modules become available later in the programme, and whether Erasmus or travel abroad options apply.

2. Before signing up for a talk, ensure you are studying the required subjects to be eligible for a place on the programme. You would be amazed how many students list courses on their CAO application for which they can’t be offered a place because they won’t have the minimum entry requirements.

3. Don’t ignore a course or open day because you don’t expect to get enough points. You may do far better than you anticipate.

4. Thoroughly explore the college’s website. The college’s clubs, societies, student services, outreach programmes and opportunities will be as important in shaping you as lectures or subject choice.

5. In the week before an open day, jot down some questions. See if the programme covers your questions. If it doesn’t, ask the presenter where you can get the extra information you need.

6. As you move from presentation to presentation, reflect on what it would feel like to live and study in this place. Do you feel good about it? Do you feel at ease? Don’t dismiss your gut feeling - it is almost always right.

7. For many students, the size of the college or class group matters. You may seek a big campus full of bustle and excitement, with thousands of students or you might find such an environment intimidating and prefer a more intimate college, where smaller groups of students get to know each other quickly.

8. On open day, ask about the support services for new students. The answer is often a good guide to the quality of the overall package.

9. Central to most online open days are opportunities for prospective students to question current students about their experience of the courses you are interested in. Colleges that are comfortable allowing you to meet current students usually provide a high quality of service.

10. Reflect about your experience. You will be amazed at what strikes you if you give yourself the time and space to do this. The process will give you a rich resource to reread when you have to submit your final list of CAO course choices by the deadline of July 1st, 2022.