Importance of Open Days

(24 Posts)
RedHelenB Sun 26-Jun-16 17:17:39

As we are now in university open day season, I would urge you all to go and visit prospective unis. My dd has been surprised by her thinking in theory not necessarily being born out in practice. Her current favourite is one that I sort of suggested she look at simply because it was close in distance and to act as a yardstick.

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Heratnumber7 Sun 26-Jun-16 17:20:36

Thank you for that. Any more advice?

starsandstripes2016 Sun 26-Jun-16 17:26:16

went with my dd last week to her 'absolutely going to love, so excited' first choice. She walked into the entrance hall and straight out the other side. Absolutely hated it. Yep. Open days are crucial. The advice we also have is that if attended the open day and spoken to course leader, this personal encounter can positively influence offer and requirements.

Filosofikal Sun 26-Jun-16 17:36:02

Of course open days are important but course content is just as important and I think it gets overlooked sometimes. For example biology at one Uni is very different at another. (Rather obvious but still...)

RedHelenB Sun 26-Jun-16 17:53:13

But you get to talk about your course in more detail at open days. Again, very different from reading a prospectus.

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sendsummer Sun 26-Jun-16 22:39:02

RedHelen and starsandstripes what most changed your DCs' views?
The personal interactions with course leaders or type of surroundings and buildings or finding out more about the course content ?

RedHelenB Mon 27-Jun-16 07:34:45

More of a "gut" feel I think and feeling that they could imagine themselves being a student there.

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stonecircle Mon 27-Jun-16 10:00:04

What influenced my ds most was attending lectures at open / offer days. For ages he was very keen on the idea of Cardiff but hated the lecture.

sendsummer Mon 27-Jun-16 10:17:09

Thanks both. The gut feeling and quality of sample lectures is obviously really important but I suppose unless a DC has difficulty restricting their choice to 5 with other criteria in mind offer days would help with both those?

bojorojo Mon 27-Jun-16 14:02:59

DD only went to one sample lecture at the universities on her short list. She was happy with the course content everywhere (which is possibly not so variable in her subjects) and the lecturer giving the sample lecture is never the one that teaches you anyway! There are a whole host of lecturers that do that and they vary in quality and ability. Just going on one is a bit of a gamble and not a high enough sample to rule that university out.

Where you fit in is key and whether the course is well recognised and gives the student the edge regarding employment or future study is important to many. The feeling of fitting in and being "at home" at a particular university is why so many people choose universities close to home. There is ease of transition if the people you meet at university are like you. People are not always very adventurous these days because of the huge number of universities on offer in places where they previously did not exist, ie near to home. However, this may not be the best choice for quality of course or employemnt prospects so everything needs to be taken into considertion when visiting.

RedHelenB Mon 27-Jun-16 16:11:48

Sendsummer offer holder days would give you the same perspective I think but because dd1 is applying for a competitive course she wanted as much information as she could get, in order to help with her UCAS form.

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reader77 Mon 27-Jun-16 16:16:20

Totally agree OP.

Dragged dd to one last week. By the end of it she was buzzing with excitement and so motivated. Sample lecture was excellent and she now knows exactly where she wants to go and what she's in ing for.

RedHelenB Mon 27-Jun-16 16:21:59

That's good reader- should make the slog of A levels easier knowing wehat they can get at the end of it!

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OhNoNotMyBaby Mon 27-Jun-16 16:23:08

Make sure you do the accommodation tours. It's important to see what the rooms are like

Do the campus tours. We went round Exeter at the beginning of the month and found it beautiful. However, the subject session was rubbish (Ancient History). Only the prospective students could attend those but apparently they all nearly fell asleep because the lecturer waffled on interminably about 20 credits from here, and 30 credits from there....

What they want to hear about is why they should study that subject. Warwick did a brilliant job on Saturday of enthusing the students, talking about the specific areas of interest of the lecturers and what the options were.

Also one uni just said "oh we only look at grades", but another said, "the department looks at all applications, and reads the personal statements, looks at experiences, EPQs etc etc.

Don't rush it. It's important to walk around and absorb the atmosphere.

Do go to any drop-ins in subject areas.

Do look at the buildings your DC would be based in, ie where is the Law / English / Maths centre etc

Be enthusiastic

senua Mon 27-Jun-16 16:31:42

I agree with the importance of visiting. DD had a University that looked great on paper but the reality turned out to be ghastly Sixties concrete (breaking news: the marketing people only show you the pretty bits on prospectuses!) that took 7 hours to reach on public transport.
I would also advocate Open Days as opposed to Offer Holder Days. You've only got 5 UCAS choices - why waste them when it's so easy to check before rather than after.

OhNoNotMyBaby Mon 27-Jun-16 16:41:14

Also, look at the league tables for subject areas. We've chosen to exclude London, even though 2 unis feature very highly, simply because they're in London (expensive, noisy). We're looking close to home but also far away (though I'm privately hoping they won't be the top choices because of rail fares).

Try to do at least 3. the 1st one visited was great, but v expensive and really, really not very nice accommodation in the price band we can afford. 2nd was not great to look at or be in - we weren't inspired, but the subject department is great.

2 others we've seen as she has friends there.

this weekend we're off to Newcastle - my old stomping ground

RedHelenB Mon 27-Jun-16 16:51:43

dd is going there too Ohnotmybaby and is hoping she likes it.

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OhNoNotMyBaby Mon 27-Jun-16 17:13:22

Newcastle is absolutely fabulous! [no, I'm not biased in any way at all..... wink]
As long as your DD is OK with NEVER wearing a coat when she goes out, even in a blizzard. this is gospel for Newcastle.

Seriously, it's a small city but a great one, and very friendly. So many things to see and do, and the metro is great too - you can go to the seaside for the day!

We used to go skiiing on the Town Moor (after we'd scraped the ice of the inside of our flat windows), camping in the Lakes.... so many happy memories.

Not envious at all, Oh No. Not even a little bit envy envy

stonecircle Tue 28-Jun-16 00:00:29

Bojorojo - of course dcs will be taught by more than one lecturer! But a lot of courses do vary considerably and in my ds's case they gave him a better feel for the style of teaching/course content than he could glean from a prospectus.

The feel of a place is of course important. Not sure how useful accommodation tours are - pot luck if your dc ends up in the halls which are selected for open day tours (which are likely to be the best)

senua Tue 28-Jun-16 18:08:43

in my ds's case they gave him a better feel for the style of teaching/course content than he could glean from a prospectus.

My DS applied for a subject that can be taken as a BA or a BSc. He applied for BA. The University sent a lecturer from the BSc side, who then bad-mouthed the department and said he spent most of his time avoiding them and doing collaboration with a different science.
That was a bit of an eye-opener and put DS off the place, despite it being one of the top tier. Of course he was only one lecturer but what sort of department decides to have someone like that as their representative!?

bojorojo Tue 28-Jun-16 18:41:21

One lecture never gives the style of teaching that may be employed by all lecturers. They differ widely and basing a choice on this is flawed. They often choose the very enthusiastic types to do the sample lecture but your DC may choose options taught by the most fuddy fuddy types you would run a mile from. It is wise to never choose based on a sample of one, regardless of how good or bad it seems. Over 3 or 4 years this will not be a representative sample.

sendsummer Tue 28-Jun-16 21:13:19

It is not always the most enthusiastic charismatic lecturers on open days who actually have the best depth of knowledge and research track record. Just saying. Also as a general rule universities with higher rated research departments recruit better postgraduate and postdoctoral students. Although in all universities these come and go they will deliver a fair proportion of the teaching.

eatyourveg Wed 29-Jun-16 07:55:30

Ds went to an open day last year and the woman giving the talk was truly awful - she kept telling everyone she had been brought in at the last moment to cover illness, she didn't know what she was supposed to say at such things and as a result would have to blag it - it was a huge let down as it was ds's number 1 choice.

He didn't however let the woman put him off but when he went to the offer day and saw her again his heart sank - she was going to be the course convener - he spent the day with her and a very small handful of other students doing his variant of a popular subject and by the end of it said he had never got someone so wrong before - she was really kind and lovely and very interested in all he and the others students there had to say - he firmed his offer before coming home.

stonecircle Wed 29-Jun-16 14:16:24

I don't think anyone would be so foolish as to choose on the basis of one lecture Bojo. However all you can hope to do at an open day is to get a feel for a place and attending a lecture forms part of the overall impression.

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