The university process doesn’t start after you leave school, it starts well before. This is where Open Days come in…
It came up in the last blog that I took a gap year, and I ended up spending a lot of time visiting Birmingham, with two University Open Days, one Offer-Holder Visit Day, and one Accommodation Open Day before I finally started studying. A really important thing to remember about your UCAS application is that it’s not the university holding all the cards – you get to ask questions too, and see if it’s the right place to study for the next few years of your life.
Just as a Personal Statement is your attempt to wow the University, this is their opportunity to try and impress. You can use multiple open days all over the country as a fun and interactive way to help shape your UCAS choices, or you can use one or two slightly later in the process, as a way to narrow down your firm and backup options.
Activities vary from guided tours of the Campus (or an unguided wander, if that’s your thing), to taster lectures and course overview talks, all the way to barbeques and demonstrations from societies. Some accommodations blocks are also open to give an insight into what halls are like – but if you want to see a wider range, or in more detail, come along for an Accommodation Open Day. It’s a great time to ask students any questions, even the uncomfortable ones, and to probe lecturers about their school or course. You’ll get some confidence inspiring answers, and leave a lot more certain in your decisions.
On Open Days, I found that I had normally done everything I’d wanted to do by early afternoon, and this gave a great opportunity to see the local area, get some food, and just experience local life. There’s worse days than an afternoon spent exploring cities in the middle of our treasured UK summer. It gave me a chance to think not just about the course, but about my university life – and get an understanding of what it would be like living here. Ask as many questions as you can think of and then have a burger!
So congratulations, you’ve applied to Birmingham (good choice) and got an offer. What’s next? You’ve got the opportunity for two more days on Campus – lucky you:
The first is an Offer-Holder Visit Day. This is an opportunity to have a real university experience – lectures and all. Between some introductory talks about the course content, careers department, and wellbeing support, there were also a couple of ‘pretend’ lectures/lab sessions which were good fun & gave experience of using the Department resources. In-between the timetabled activates, there were ample opportunities to speak to people & meet your potential future course-mates, along with campus tours (in a less crowded & rushed environment than the open days). Put a face to the names you’ll see looking lost in Fresher’s week.
The next is an Accommodation Open Day. By this point I was getting used to Birmingham, so it didn’t need to be a long day. I’d already shortlisted the accommodations that suited me and chose to walk between the different sites, as opposed to the minibus service. Partly to get an idea of where they were placed in relation to the Computer Science Department, but mainly so I could continue working through my ice cream.
My experiences of these days were all relaxed and informative. I left feeling very pleased with Birmingham – it was my definite first choice from very early on in the application process. Now I’m studying here, I can safely say that it gives a good representation of the true experience. Come down and find out what that experience is truly like!