How I got the most out of my Open Days

Kate Forbes

How I chose which open days to go to

When I was deciding which open days I wanted to go to, I spent a bit of time looking at different university websites. This was really helpful as it allowed me to get to know the universities a bit more, and to see not only what each university offered but what set them apart from each other. 

I wanted to consider more than just academics as that is only a part of what university life can offer. My interests lie in sport and drama, so I used multiple resources to see what sort of societies and sports clubs you could get involved in as well. This kind of information can be found on Facebook and Twitter pages as well as YouTube and online blogs!

Something I found very helpful was looking at different platforms other than the university websites. This was great for giving me different perspectives from people who were living, or had lived, the uni experience themselves. Instagram and YouTube were great as there were countless videos of people talking about their time at uni, why they loved the one they were at, and also how they picked the uni they had ended up at. If you don’t have friends or family attending uni, this is such a great way to get an insider’s perspective from someone who can give real life insight into what to expect.

What I found most useful about open days

Open days are such a great opportunity to get a proper feel for the universities you are considering.

The most useful things I found about the open days were:

Getting to speak to university students to get a greater insight into their lived experience of uni life

I cannot stress enough how useful it is to speak to someone who has not only been through what you are going through, but is also living through the experience you are heading towards!

There is such a wide range of students at uni who have all had completely different experiences. Each ambassador is there to tell you about how they curated their own unique experience and how you can do the same.

Visiting the department and getting a taste of what the subject lectures are like

This is a really helpful way to get a taste of the academic side of student life. I attended Psychology taster sessions at all the unis I went to. It was really interesting to see the different styles of lectures that were given and to get to know the main areas of research which the lecturers were focused on.

I also found it helped me to be more secure in the knowledge that I was making the right subject choice. I left the taster lectures eager to know more about what we had been told and excited to start my undergraduate degree in that subject.

My tips to get the most out of your open day

Visit as many colleges as possible!

Especially at Durham, each college has its own quirks and differences. Each college offers something special: modern or old, big or small, catered or self-catered, centre of town or near the science site, and more! Colleges can be such a big part of your time at Durham that it is definitely worth getting a feel for as many of them as you can. As long as you are prepared for a solid day of walking, that is!

Speak to lots of different student ambassadors to hear about their personal experiences, each one is different and they are dying to speak to you about it!

Have a walk around the town– explore!

See if you like the vibe of the city. Maybe grab a coffee or bite to eat somewhere. This will help you figure out if you feel comfortable in the environment and see if you can imagine yourself walking round, being an actual student, there. Durham is more than just an aesthetically pleasing castle and cathedral – it has so much history to offer too!

Ask lots of questions…

…about accommodation, distance between colleges and departments, accommodation and housing prices, self-catered and catered meals, nightlife, academia. There is so much to know that will help you decide about things that you can’t find on the websites. This is your opportunity to grill the ambassadors about anything you like, which can really help in making your decision about whether the university is right for you.

Make a little list after each university open day…

…about the things you liked most and what you didn’t like – take pictures too, if you like! Especially if you are visiting a lot of other universities, it is helpful to have little reminders about key aspects of each uni which you can go back and refer to – otherwise it can all get a little jumbled up in your head!

How I will help with open days as a graduate ambassador

I am SO excited to get to work on an open day as it does not feel long ago at all that it was me wandering around, staring up at the Cathedral, wondering if Durham was the place for me.

I will be one of the many smiling faces in a purple hoodie directing parents and prospective student around campus! My role will be to act as your very own walking, talking Durham University encyclopaedia. I am there to answer any questions you have about courses, life as a student, college, and more! I am also there to help guide you to where you want to get to, as Durham’s winding cobbled streets and hilly terrain are not always the simplest for finding your way round.

Open days can sometimes feel a little hectic, with so many people wandering around and so much information being given to you. It can sometimes be difficult to remember it all! We, as student ambassadors, know exactly how that feels and are here to try and make that process a bit smoother and more enjoyable.

Discover more

For information about Open Days, click here

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Kate Forbes

Hello! My name is Kate Forbes and I am a third year psychology student at Durham University. I am from Colombia and am a member of the Durham University boxing squad. I love playing Durham college hockey and can often be found in the Bill Bryson library café getting involved in deep levels of procrastination.

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