Its decision time for most final year students in schools, sixth-forms and colleges. Visiting prospective colleges, sixth-forms, universities or even employers you have short-listed can help in making this all-important decision.
Some of the key benefits of attending open days include:
1. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about courses / roles you are considering. Such an invaluable experience can help you make a better judgement on this big decision that will have a strong impact on the rest of your career. Speak to the lecturers/tutors/employers and get a better insight of the pros and cons of the different courses/programmes options available in order to make a better judgement on which one would suit you. Ask questions and get advice on areas such as:
- Structure and duration of the course/programme
- Exact entry requirements or core skill expectations
- Compulsory and optional components
- Learning approaches, teaching and independent study
- Examination/assessment methods
- Practical and job-related components
- How the programme prepares you for your career
- Post-qualification opportunities
2. Take a tour of the institution/organisation’s facilities. Visit your prospective department to see the facilities and resources available. Learn more about the range of facilities available including library facilities, student union, laboratories and lecture theatres. For employer visits, learn more about what each department does, the typical working day, the nature of products and services they specialise in, the offices and operational facilities in place. Visiting the local surrounding will also give you a flavour of the shops, restaurants, attractions and other services available in the town, to check if it’s your cup of tea.
3. Speak to student support services, accommodation and other relevant departments’ staff. Assess how friendly they are and clarify on all sorts of issues about the halls of residence and other facilities available.
• The accommodation’s kitchen/bathroom/communal facilities
• What each room comes with
• Its comfort/ cleanliness/warmth/safety and security
• Distance from campus
• Transport facilities
• Clubs and sporting facilities
4. Speak to the student finance team about costs and funding issues. Assess how friendly they are and clarify on all sorts of issues about the halls of residence and other facilities available.
• Ask about the full cost of the programme and check if there any extra tuition charges to be anticipated
• Other costs for study resources, equipment, workshops or field trips
• Are there any scholarships, discounts or bursary funding opportunities available
• How student finance works, if not sure about anything
• An idea of other costs: transport, accommodation, food and entertainment
5. Start building relationships. Use this golden opportunity to start building relationships with lecturers/tutors, staff/managers and current colleagues. Also take this opportunity to make new friends with other colleagues attending the open day. You never know, you might be fortunate to make friends and flatmates this early – not a bad start!
After making all the open day visits, it’s crunch time – decision-making time.
- List all the things you liked and disliked. Highlight the most outstanding ones.
- Picture yourself there. Can you see yourself settling, enjoying and spending a few years there? Were they friendly?
- Do you like the course/programme? Will it help you progress in your career?
- Ask your parents/family/friends’ opinions. Parental advice is important but remember, they are just opinions, you still must sum up everything and make your own decision. But if parents disagree, work together to agree with them, they are still important stakeholders in your career – keep them on your side.
After all these deliberations, scoring and pondering, and even considering your instincts and what’s on your heart, make up your mind then go for it and apply. Be positive and confident with your choice. Hopefully you will get a place and you will go on to like it!
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