University open day tips for parents

University open days provide an opportunity for prospective students to get a feel for institutions and courses of interest before they make their final decision and submit applications. It gives them a chance to explore the campus, talk to students and staff, attend information sessions and experience what life is like as a uni student. If you’re getting ready to visit universities, we offer some tips to help you get the most out of your open day experience.

  • Encourage them to do some research and make a plan: This includes considering which university open days they want to visit in the first place, as well as thinking about possible courses of interest, who to talk to, questions they may have and what they hope to find out. Many universities have open day sections on their websites where students can look at programs and timetables, view photos from previous years, access maps and general information, and read through highlights, questions and tips. Some even have a mobile app.
  • Explore the campus: Taking a tour of the campus will give you and your child the chance to view facilities, such as the library, fitness centre, cafés and specialised learning spaces, and also help you find your bearings. Also take a note of things like public transport; parking spaces; nearby services such as banks, shops and cafés; and potential accommodation options. If your child is interested in a hands-on field such as design or IT, keep an eye out for specialised equipment or facilities.
  • Talk to a range of people: Different people will be able to offer different knowledge and insight, depending on their position and experiences. While lecturers and tutors will provide the ‘nitty-gritty’ information on courses and subjects, talking to current students will give your child an idea of what it’s like to study at that particular university and what they can expect from their course. Alumni are another great resource — they will be able to give you an idea of where the course can lead to and what aspects of the course they found most valuable. Also encourage your child to chat to representatives from clubs and societies of interest, as well as those from support teams dealing with services such as accommodation.

  • Let them take the lead: Letting your child plan the day will get them thinking in depth about their options after school and where their interests lie. Listen to their interests and allow them to decide which sessions they would like to attend and who they would like to speak to. Let them ask the questions and direct conversation when chatting to people on campus, but if you think of a question they may not have thought to ask — things like pathway options, overseas study opportunities, double degrees or scholarships — don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • Attend more than one open day:  Although your child may already have their heart set on a certain university, visiting a different campus gives them the chance to see how their chosen institution compares to others, both in their field of study and as a whole. It may be that they were so quick to decide on the first university that they didn’t really give much thought to the alternatives, and a visit to another open day may open their eyes to other possibilities. On the other hand, visiting another campus may also help to confirm that their original choice is the right decision.

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