One of the first big decisions of your teen’s adult life is which university to attend, and you’ll understandably want to be there to support them.
Going to open days is a large part of choosing a university, so you’re probably wondering whether or not parents cango to university open days too. The answer is yes.
But determining whether you should accompany your teen is a discussion you need to have together.
It’s not essential for you to be there if you’re unavailable or your teen prefers to attend open days on their own. But if you both decide it’s a good idea for you to join them, ensure you take a step back and let your teen prioritise what they want to do on the day. After all, they’ll be the one studying there.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to completely tap out – there are a few ways you can support your teen when it comes to attending a uni open day.
Let’s start with the basics. The purpose of a uni open day is for potential students to get an idea of what it would be like to study at a particular university. It's an event where anyone interested in attending a university can come and explore the campus, ask questions and listen to teaching staff talk about all the programs on offer.
University open days generally include a structured timetable of presentations by lecturers and tutors from an array of study areas and programs, so you can pick and choose those you’re interested in attending. Faculties will often put on interactive demonstrations and exhibitions or set up stalls where you can ask questions and seek admissions advice. Most of the major Australian universities organise a bunch of fun activities, competitions and freebies to help prospective students get excited for uni life.
When are university open days?
Most Australian university open days occur in the second half of the year, from June to September, with August being the most popular month for these events. This allows Year 12 students time to carefully consider their options before submitting their preferences through the relevant state or territory Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC for Queensland).
However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way universities deliver open days, with many offering online events and tours throughout the year. This is great for students who live in rural areas and can’t travel to attend open days in person. You can check if the universities your teen is interested in are offering online open day options by visiting their websites.
This being said, we recommend making the trip to attend a uni open day in person, if you can. Part of choosing the right university is feeling at home on campus, and it's difficult to get an idea of this through a computer screen (though a virtual tour can certainly help).
Tips for getting the most out of a university open day
There are plenty of ways you can support your teen to help them make the most of open days. Here’s where to start.
Do some research
Open days are a chance for you and your teen to find out more about a university and decide whether it’s the right one. To give you a head start on the day, come prepared having done research. Make sure your teen has a look at their programs of interest and background information on the university, so they come to the open day ready with questions to be answered.
Other ways you can prepare for open day:
Print a copy of the campus map.
Check public transport and parking options.
Plan out the facilities you’d like to see.
Write down specific questions you’d like answered.
Get in touch with the university if you have special requirements they’ll need to accommodate.
The more you and your teen prepare for an open day in advance, the better your experience will be and the more you both will take away from the day.
Plan out your day
No matter the university you visit, there will be a myriad of booths, activities and events arranged for open day. This will typically include:
general admission talks
Student Union events
Your teen will need to prioritise what they want to do most, as it’s often tricky to fit everything in. Be sure to check the location of each of the events and activities you wish to attend and leave yourself enough time to walk between them if the campus is large. Drafting a timetable for the day will ensure you don’t miss out on the important stuff and will help you get acquainted with the campus before arriving.
Download the UQ Open Day app and organise your day with our personalised open day planner. Easily see the seminar timetable and how long it’ll take you to get between activities. Available via the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Speak to people
There are going to be plenty of people on hand to answer all your questions, so don’t be afraid to seek out lecturers, tutors and even current students to ask any and all of your queries. Unsure what to ask at uni open days? If your teen has a specific course in mind, try to find out more info on what will be taught and how it will be assessed.
Encourage your teen to speak up at the information sessions, ask the staff about the admissions process and speak to students about their own experiences. Keep in mind that there’s so much more to the university experience than study – so don’t forget to ask around about the various social aspects and perks of campus life.
Remember: there’s no such thing as a silly question. This is your best opportunity to find out what you need to know about your teen’s potential future university.
Explore the campus
Spend some time checking out the facilities on campus and exploring the buildings your teen might be taking classes in. For example, if they’re hoping to study design, you might take them to see one of the design labs so they can properly envision what it will be like to do workshops there.
Be sure to take note of all the other facilities available on campus, including food outlets, convenience stores and whether there’s a post office or pharmacy. Your teen might be interested in recreational and sporting facilities too – basketball courts, swimming pools, theatres and green spaces, for example.
You can also investigate the accommodation options available both on campus and nearby, if needed. Another thing to consider while doing this is your teen’s transport options and whether it’s more convenient to walk, drive or take public transport to get to classes.
Importantly, make sure your teen enjoys the day! Open day is all about getting an idea of what uni life could look like and being involved in all the fun activities at the event. Encourage your teen to imagine themselves as a uni student for the day, to get the full experience.