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Durham Open Day - anyone go? What did you think?(24 Posts)
I went with DS to Durham's open day yesterday.
He was dead set on going to Durham but he came away quite deflated as it didn't really live up to his expectations.
The courses mostly looked good and appealed to him (he went to sociology, criminology, anthropology and human geography) but he said he got a "weird vibe" from the university more generally.
I thought it seemed like an okay place but then I'm not going to study there for three years!
Did anyone else go to the open day yesterday? What did you think?
Took my kid Monday - she loved it - I was quite happy too - loved the chemistry professors 'blowing things up ' well just demonstrating really - ask him why he's deflated - is he worried about emphasis on grades etc required ?
Almost any university has a weird vibe once the students have left, but especially ones which are so dominated by the student population. For exactly that reason I took my DC to visit Durham during term time. It's totally different.
Took mine too! He was looking forward to it, very much. Not a great fan, but still in the running. He said he felt as if in a way, they were insecure and trying to prove themselves by being overly loud about their “prestige”.
St Andrews deffo beat Durham in his books.
DS was put off Durham last year because the subject discussions were boring. We'd been to Imperial beforehand and they'd given mini lectures and demonstrations. Really exciting stuff. The Durham physics and natural science sessions just described the course structure and grade requirements. Very hard to stay awake!
We wondered if it was indicative of their general approach.
DS also felt it was a bit small and quiet. The students said they got the train and went out in Newcastle.
We are going on Saturday. Dd wants to study Psychology. Her friend’s brother is already there and loves it.
Um! Of course Durham is small. So is St Andrews. We didn’t go on an open day either. We found the students very helpful. Of course the bright lights are in Newcastle but if you want bright lights all the time, choose Newcastle, or Manchester or any bigger city in the North or London if you can afford nights out in London.
I don’t think DDs were really persuaded by Wow sample lectures. They always felt tgst was a bit false. Durham are top notch and I don’t really see why they shouldn’t celebrate that. If you are doing anthropology, sociology or Criminology you need a decent university on the cv.
bollock Durham geography is an excellent department - world renowned but I am biased
I studied at Durham a few years ago and can highly recommend the sociology and anthropology departments ( I did a combined degree). The city feels very different in term time, much more student focused. Excellent pastoral support from the SU, my college and the department's.
A friend of DD's visited Durham last year and found them unfriendly and snobby. He also went to Oxford and found them friendly and welcoming. He has an Oxford offer.
He didn't really mind it being small but he felt it was a bit "try hard".
Conversely to what PP have said, he actually felt like the university was trying to say "Hey look we're really fun and modern despite our history and prestige" rather than putting the prestige at the fore.
DS is predicted the grades to get in but the sociology and geography talks were very clear that they take people predicted lower than their standard grades too.
@Disfordarkchocolate That's really interesting. What do you think you got from a combined degree that you might not have done from a single degree? DS didn't know he could do a combined degree until Monday <rolls eyes>
Has he / you been to any other Open Days apart from Durham. In my, albeit fairly limited experience, they all seem to "try hard", and you need to look beyond the marketing.
Agree with goodbye that a visit in term time may give a different perspective. And if anything like where we were yesterday the weather may have been spectacular. Having lived in the North East hot wall to wall sunshine and blue skies is not typical Durham term time weather
5 options on the UCAS form so even if he's not totally convinced at this point by Durham but has it strongly in the running nothing to lose by applying.
He wanted to go to York as well but it's fully booked (he left it too late)
He's going to Bath and Bristol with some friends at some point
I've suggested we visit during term time but he's very non-committal (as usual!)
It was fantastic. You get to plan your own degree (within limits). In three years I did the core combined module each year and them some politics, sociology, theology and anthropology. All excellent departments that went together very well, you often get a different perspective on the same/similar issues. Good for those who can't quite decide what to concentrate on and those who have a wide range of interests and are self starters.
Dd has been to Bath and Bristol this month. Bath is currently favourite.
Interesting. A few friends' children mentioned this too upon visiting Durham so it's not just your son. Wonder if Durham has a bit of an inferiority complex? Doesn't mean the courses won't be good though. Sorry that's not helpful at all...
We went today. Agree with PP physics talk was worst we'd seen. Accomodation was poor too compared to others we'd seen. There wasn't the effort made as at others to show library off more/ extra curricular etc.
Some of the college's are relocating to the hill and one of the students who showed us round seemed to imply that there were issues around strategic decisions in the uni.
We went today for Psychology. Thought it was fantastic; joint first with Bath in dd’s opinion. Looked at self catering accommodation and catered and definitely preferred sc.
I went to Durham many moons ago and it was fab. St Andrews is brilliant but way smaller.
I studied at Durham years ago (graduated 2014) and I really liked it. I wasn't privately educated and didn't come from a wealthy background and worried that I wouldn't fit in but the majority were wonderful and I made some amazing friends (there were one or two that made some slightly rude comments in freshers year but nothing serious). I studied criminology and the teaching staff were excellent, they really do look after their students and genuinely care about giving the best education. I sometimes stayed in Durham out of term time as I worked part time (so had to stay) and I found it to be a completely different city when students werent there, I didn't like it at all. As OP said, try go back in term time because it is an amazing place to live and study.
Thanks for the comments everyone, esp. those who studied at Durham.
@Evvve - DS was thinking about Criminology so that's really useful to read. They've got a course in Criminology that they teach in prisons which seemed to get quite a few people excited but DS said it was very "gimmicky" <Rolls eyes>
Open day impressions are so subjective though: highly influenced by your food on the day, how much sleep you had, what food you had, the weather, the journey, the personality and individual prefences of the student(s) who showed you round.
There is so mich info available online now. I don't understand why people spend so much time and money attending open days, especially when the students aren't there. Durham is a great uni, if you want to live/study in Durham. But if you want to be on a campus university, in a big city or within 2 hrs of London, it is clearly not suitable.
My boys attended one or two open days only, but mostly did their research online.
We got on the train at Newark to go up to the open day for Newcastle on the same day as Durham. It was so packed we paid extra to sit in first class - made sense as we needed breakfast anyway. Not many seats left in first class and they were filled with a parent and 6th form child. Two families next to us were obviously from private schools with ‘nicknames’ for Geography (Geo) and so forth. They were extremely loud and we had to listen about their extensive skiing plans for next year. EVERYONE got off the first class carriage except us at Durham. I had been trying to persuade my Dd to at least look at Durham as she either wants to do English or a combination of English/Politics but she said Durham was full of loud public school types. Annoying she was proved totally right. We got off with the rest of the lower classed passengers at Newcastle. She loved it except the English Department weren’t out in force and she wanted to chat to the lecturers.
It didn’t help that she read this about Durham:
Didn’t see too many of those but we were looking at Psychology only. Dd’s interest in Law has waned. When we looked at both subjects at Bristol there seemed to be a higher posh element for Law. DD is a comprehensive kid.