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Visiting on non open days(43 Posts)
There are a few universities that Dd is considering, (or I think she should just have a look at) which are in fairly far flung corners of the land. It isn't practical for economic or time reasons to go to all of them on open days. However most universities do put something on their web sites about arranging visits at other times. I know there wouldn't be the talks etc, but presumably October half term there would be a few students around and you could get a more accurate feel for the place? Has anyone done this and how was it? On the list are universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Glasgow, York and Durham.
Actually the one university open day we did go to was quite hellish(from my point of view) but dd unexpectedly loved it, that's why I am thinking of visiting places she might not be so interested now, or ruling out ones she has set her sights on.
There would be many students around as universities don't have half terms.
I work in a University & wouldn't recommend this. You won't be given tours of eg accommodation, won't be able to attend talks about courses or talk to lecturers. There will likely be security restrictions where you will need an ID card to enter buildings etc.
If you want a sense of the campus/area it might be ok. Are you planning to stop random students studying different courses and ask questions when they might be on their way to a lecture? Open days take a lot of planning and departments like student services/admissions etc won't be available. Unless you won't be travelling far I wouldn't waste my time.
If you just want to see what the town/ campus is like then do it, but you won't get anywhere near the amount of information than if you went on an open day. And whatever you do please do not do what a parent did to me the other week and rock up to reception without any notice and ask for an academic to give them a personal guided tour. Just because I'm not teaching doesn't mean I'm not busy.
We did this a few weeks ago, me and my DD just went for a walk around the campus, checked out how long it takes to walk to halls etc and just got a general feel for the area. I'm glad we did as now I have a rough idea of the area she'll be staying if she gets the grades. It has put my mind at rest as it had a lovely feel about it, it's 200 miles from our area and I have 3 other young DC's so attending open days wasn't a option for me.
Thanks for the comments. In my little fantasy world we would 'pop' into the office, chat to passing lecturers who would rustle up some students she could chat too! Perhaps if we wait to see if she gets any offers and visit on offer holders days, rather than visiting somewhere she may not even get an offer for!
We went to Bristol recently to looks around my DD is now going there having missed her first choice. We wandered round the uni area and managed to sneak into the department she will be in. We also spoke at length to someone in the accommodation office who took us through all her options and we sneaked into the grounds of one of the halls. She felt she saw enough to be impressed and is looking forward to going there now. I think it will be fine to not go to an actual open day at any uni.
In my little fantasy world we would 'pop' into the office, chat to passing lecturers who would rustle up some students she could chat too!
You said it: fantasy world. I'd have time for that at maybe 8am or 7pm.
Quite a few universities offer virtual tours online and sometimes if you go to YouTube and type the university and course there can be a recording of a previous open day talk - not all do this but a few have it.
But a more serious answer: I see what you're after - the personalised sense that your DD is one of a handful. But she's not, and universities simply don't have the resources for what you imagine as an ideal.
That's why we have Open Days - academic staff give up their Saturdays to chat to possible applicants, and we persuade current students (they're paid an honorarium or in kind) also to come in on a Saturday to talk to intending applicants.
But university campuses are open, and you can wander around. There will be areas you can't go (quads in colleges at Oxford etc), but you can get a good feel of the place. Go to the student union, the cafeteria, the bar. Wander into the Library, have a look at the Sports Centre or the art gallery or the theatre - whatever you're interested in. You don't have to be limited to an Open Day to do that.
Glasgow Uni Open Day is 22 October, so that should fit in with your timetable. I've just booked 2 tickets for me and the 15 year old.
That really is a fantasy world.
Lecturers would not be available just because they aren't lecturing !!!! They have lots of other things that are part of their job.
Nor will students happen to be arou nd. Its not school - nobody 'directs' the students to be around on any day.
You won't be able to see the accommodation.
You won't be able to hear about the course
You would be luc,y to bump into students doing the particular course.
Unless you happened to be in the town for some other reason / passing by I certainly wouldn't travel to do this.
I have been to a few with DD1, and we have sort of come to the conclusion that you need to get a feel for the actual city, and whether you can imagine living there, and then have a really good look at the makeup of the course, and how it is taught.
We went to a city university which has a very good reputation for her subject, but she didn't like the place, and when she saw the course, she realised it wasn't really geared towards the areas of her subject that most interest her.
So, she could have found all that out by visiting the city on any given day, and by having a really good look at the published course.
At her school, everyone has to get their UCAS form in for the Oxbridge deadline, so by October half term this bit will be all over, anyway. (Hooray!)
Even if you can't go, your dd should go on her own or tag along with someone else who's going. Your firm and insurance should definitely have been visited before submission even if you decide to visit again afterwards. There's no substitute for tours, talks, department visits and time for 1-2-1 questions. And of course, if you're lucky, cakes.
A lot of universities offer campus tours (York and Durham certainly do). Not quite as detailed as an open day but they happen fairly frequently, are quite often guided by a student and sometimes you get to see some accommodation too.
I work at a London university and this wouldn't be possible at all I'm afraid - security is very tight, so you wouldn't get past the reception of any building, unless you had arranged to meet a member of staff with an ID pass who could sign you in.
Fantasy indeed! If you were thinking if applying for a job in an office would you just turn up unannounced one Tuesday and ask for a manager to give you a tour and arrange for some staff to talk to?! Dp is a lecturer in a science subject and you wouldn't even be able to get in the building! My dneice has applied this year and she went to the official open day then we went for the day to properly look around the city, the student areas etc and she said that she found that really useful. If your dd went on her own with day return train tickets booked in advance it would be much cheaper and she could perhaps visit more open days?
which are in fairly far flung corners of the land. It isn't practical for economic or time reasons to go to all of them on open days.
Think long term. We effectively drew two circles centred on our house: inside circle 1 was 'too close to home' and outside circle 2 was 'too far away'. This was after DD visited one University - on her own, by public transport - and realised the one-way 'commute' was 7 hours. So that ruled out popping back for the weekend!
Unless the University or the course is truly stupendous, I wouldn't go for the sort of place where you can only go up/come back at the beginning/end of term.
School half term often coincides with University reading week so students may not be around (or, if they are, they are holed up in the library or their rooms).
Most STEM subjects don't have reading weeks. Some universities don't do reading weeks at all.
But either way relying on bumping into students who can tell you what you want to know probably isn't a good plan.
Having done the rounds with two DC I think the course is the most important thing and you wouldn't get to find out anything about the course or related facilities on a random tour.
After many, many miles of round trips taking DS1 to and from uni I second what senua says.
After looking very carefully at the course are any of these likely to be her top 3 choices? If they are then there is a second chance for a proper visit on an "offer holder day", usually around February / March.
We did this for Edinburgh. Were there for a short break at Feb half term and DS2 booked a campus tour. It was quite superficial compared with a proper open day and nothing about the subject.
A lot of universities offer campus tours (York and Durham certainly do). Not quite as detailed as an open day but they happen fairly frequently, are quite often guided by a student and sometimes you get to see some accommodation too
Good point: universities I've worked at (not York/Durham) do this most Wednesday afternoons. Wednesday afternoon is traditionally the "sports afternoon" where we cannot schedule compulsory lectures/seminars. Students play lacrosse, or whatever, and we staff have endless meetings ...
As to bumping into students, remember the green tee shirt squads on open days are being paid to promote their uni. On other days they will be either in bed or in lectures .
You don't have to go with your daughter. My son did most of his by himself and my daughter has done one solo, and one with me.
If it is a long way away sometimes hotels will let them stay a night if they aren't 17 if you speak to the receptionist rather than booking online. Travel Lodge at Birmingham let my son do this en route for York when I spoke to a human being. My son was happy to do this, my daughter would be less comfortable, so it depends on the individual. And the location, too.
Sorry, I meant if they weren't 18, ie, only 17 so usually too young to stay in a hotel alone.