If you’re hoping to head off to uni next year then you’ve probably been invited to a number of applicant days, (providing you’ve been offered a place,) or if you’re a particularly eager year 12 you may have started looking into uni open days; both involve a visit to the university but there are a few differences between the two…
Open days are the ones which you go to when you’re in the process of deciding which unis you want to apply to. They’ll often include a talk from a lecturer, an opportunity to talk with second and third year students and plenty of opportunities to ask questions. A lot of information can be found online on the unis website, or in prospectuses which you can pick up at UCAS conventions or you can get them sent to you free of charge directly from the uni; but you may want to ask more information about bursaries or how lenient they are when it comes to entrance grades generally just anything else that they’re less likely to publicise, just be strategical in the way that you bring it up! You may also want to ask questions about student satisfaction and what the students genuinely think about the uni, although you’re more likely to get a sincere answer from online forums…
Unis will also give you the chance to look around at their accommodation. There’s a number of different types of accommodation that you can pick; either catered, which is when two of your meals (lunch and dinner,) are cooked for you; you will have to go to a canteen type area to eat this and it increases the cost of your accommodation. Alternatively, you can opt for self-catered which is when you cook all of your own food, which is significantly cheaper. You also have to choose between an en suite and a shared bathroom, again there is a price difference. Some unis will also offer studio rooms or luxury rooms which may have a better standard of furniture and a double bed, but this varies from uni to uni so it’s important that you have a look before you make a decision.
Applicant days on the other hand take place once you have received an offer and you will be sent an invitation to attend them. They’re much more specific to the course; most of the applicant days for the same uni will take place on different days so it’s all a lot more relaxed. The day is centred in the building where the course that you have received an offer from is based. You’ll again have a talk which generally outlines the course and you may be given a tour of the campus or shown accommodation. I think applicant days vary a lot depending on which uni is hosting them, and which course it is. On one of the applicant days which I attended a couple of lecturers spoke to us about the work that they’re doing outside of lectures which was really helpful because it just highlights the type of work that you might be doing once you’ve left uni, (and it’s also helpful for work experience opportunities if your lecturers working in a good job). Older students also gave talks, which again was hugely beneficial for me because it highlighted which unis had good opportunities to go abroad and good funding which really influenced my decision. Most applicant days also involve an informal buffet lunch which is supposed to be an opportunity for you to talk to lecturers/older students in a way where it’s a bit more relaxed but it tends to be a bit awkward, so have a few questions tucked under your sleeve.
To summarise; any form of uni visit day is set up to try and persuade you to pick the uni as either one of your five applications, or as your firm or insurance once you’ve received your offers; it’s your chance to ask questions and figure out if the uni is right for you, and whether it’s worth £9,250!
By The Secret Young Person