Picking a University and Open Days

Question: I’m really excited  to start my undergraduate degree in September in London. when you were in the process of applying and what not did you go to any applicant days?
I’m going for an applicant day soon for a few of my university choices, but I’m not sure what to expect. If you went, how was it for you and do you get to meet and know people? or is it more just everyone focusing on themselves and not really talking to people?



Picking a University

Firstly I will address the whole issue of picking a university as it sort of ties in with the going to open days theme. This is based on the assumption that you generally know what course you want to do/ apply for.

Different people pick their preferred universities for different reasons.  This isn’t an exhaustive list but a few of those reasons might be:

  1. Based on your  friend’s advice/ where they are going
  2. Some might be influenced by parents and family or even teachers
  3. The city you would prefer to live in
  4. Proximity to home
  5. Cost of living/ quality of accommodation
  6. Ease of public transport/ general safety
  7. The party/ busy city life or whether or not it’s quiet
  8. The course itself, especially if it is only offered at a certain uni/it’s the best place for it
  9. Grade/entry requirements
  10. Or if you’re like me simply because it is the highest in the league tables.

I know that isn’t one of the best reasons ever for picking a university, but for me personally I felt that doing a subject like law it really mattered where I went. Especially since I actually hope to pursue it when I graduate and although it is true there is generally a lot of competition for law placements, I felt it would put me in a better position going somewhere like the university I am currently at.

In general however, when you are picking a university, as much as is possible, pick a university because YOU actually want to go there. Yes you might have advice and have people suggesting things, and influencing you. But I realized the best is to go with your gut feeling and how you ultimately feel. Especially as I think that university isn’t just for the academic side but it is also an important time and personal experience that challenges/develops you as a person, that process would be far better if it is in a place that fits you as a person.

Even when you do get those offers, it can still be hard to pick where you actually want to go in the end.

This is where perhaps having gone to an open day comes in pretty handy in deciding where you actually want to go. Out of the five I applied for, I only physically went to two of the universities beforehand. Mainly because I was invited for interviews there. For one of the universities, when I went , I realized that I would hate to go there. Although the course was amazing and sounded interesting, especially how it was structured, I hated the campus, and wasn’t too keen on the city. I knew I would have gone crazy there because I prefer living in a busy place/city and for me I realized it was too sparse and quiet. Also maybe the fact that when I went for my interview it was overcast, gloomy and  it had been snowing and raining didn’t help either….

On the other hand, one of my best friends did go and do the whole open day thing, and when she went she thought it was all amazing. However after a recent phone call she felt like the open day had been like that moment when you have relatives coming over and so you put on a front to put across the best image, and then when they are gone, it’s all back to normal and everything isn’t as great as you made it to look for the guests.

{a blog post on not being happy with your choice will follow}

Open Days.

It is a nerve wrecking experience meeting new people and heading into a new environment, as you don’t know what to expect but I would say don’t worry about it, you will get into the ‘groove’ of things once you get there.

I personally didn’t actually go to the open days for any of my uni choices. In hindsight I probably should have done, but luckily I ended up in a place that I really love, and so for me it all worked out.
But what I can say about open days is that remember that with whoever is also going to those applicant days, you are all in the same boat so to speak, so if someone looks friendly/nice just go up to them and say hi. I know that the people I said hi to when I went for some interviews, I still talk to them because we ended up in the same uni even though we had met somewhere else, and some do different subjects. Of course there is always that one person that may give off those … don’t speak to me vibes, but chances are amongst the others there will be someone you get along with. That is what university generally is, there is something and someone for everyone in my experience. Especially living in London, chances are there is a place where you will fit in perfectly and feel at home.

All I can say is just be brave and that the majority of people are generally nice. I know I wouldn’t mind if someone came up to me and said hi or wanted to sit with me etc. Moreover at the open days they always have student ambassadors who will try and make you feel at home as much as possible and comfortable. I would say don’t worry too much about it. Instead take it as an opportunity to envision yourself there in September and get a feel of what it will be like to study there, take it in and enjoy it.


1 Comment

  1. 8th February 2014 / 1:28 AM

    THANK YOU! really helped me out!! 😀

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