Everybody’s talking about uni open days, but what’s the big deal? If you want to know why attending them is worth your time and what, exactly, you’ll get out of the experience, we’re here to help.
So you've reached that part of Year 12 where all your peers with their sights set on university are organising their uni open day schedules. Some may be angling towards one uni, while others are shopping around.
But if you’re still on the fence about the whole open day thing, we get it – it’s another event you need to squeeze into your already busy weekend schedule. However, open days can be extremely worthwhile when it comes to making a decision about the right university for you.
One of the primary reasons universities have open days is to welcome you onto the campus so you can get a feel for what it would be like to study there. Think of it as a university vibe check, with a whole heap of fun activities and freebies thrown in.
When you arrive on campus, you want to be able to see yourself studying there; walking the halls, sitting in lecture theatres, getting coffee. It has to feel right, and it can be difficult to get a sense of this by looking at photos on a website. Being there in flesh or taking a detailed virtual tour (for online open days) can give you a better idea of what the campus is like, and how you would fit there.
For those who are less focused on the general vibe, and more concerned with the facilities, exploring the campus at open day will allow you to check out labs, equipment and libraries. You’ll be able to see what resources you will have at your disposal to help you succeed in your studies.
2. Meet your future lecturers and tutors.
Another big part of uni open days is showcasing the variety of degrees on offer. Lecturers and tutors will give presentations, hold information sessions or run discussion panels on your study areas of interest. This gives you a better insight into the topics you’ll cover in class, and what the degree/s you want to apply for have to offer compared to other universities.
Planning on hitting up multiple information sessions to find out more about a shortlist of degrees you’re still choosing between? Be sure to arrive organised. View the open day program and prioritise your top activities for the day, to ensure you don’t miss anything vital to your decision-making process. At UQ, you can download the UQ Open Day App and use the personal agenda to organise your day. The app is updated and re-released in August each year, to help you make the most of your open day experience.
During the information sessions, you’ll find out more about your future lecturers’ and tutors’ approaches to teaching and learning, and the types of practical experiences you can expect to undertake during your studies. You may also get to chat with current students to gain a better understanding of the degree/s you’re interested in, and their expected job outcomes or career trajectories.
3. Suss out the student lifestyle.
Why go to a uni open day? To experience what life will be like as a university student. Discover the clubs and societies you can join to meet likeminded people and see what recreational facilities are available for that all-important downtime between studies. Whether you want to join a competitive or social sports team, or you’re more into communal movie nights, this is your chance to find out what you'll be doing with your new mates when you aren’t hitting the books.
A university is a community, and you want to be able to envision yourself as part of that community. Seeing what kind of lifestyle you would lead at a university – both socially and academically – will help you decide whether or not it’s the right place for you.
4. Find answers to all your questions.
Our best tip for making open day worth your time – aside from planning your day – is to come with a list of questions you want to find answers to. Think about what you want most from your university experience and draft your questions so you can check off your list of ‘must-haves’. Consider who to approach to find the right answers – it might be a current student or teaching staff, someone working in admissions or someone who can help you with scholarships. At open day, even if someone can’t answer your question on the spot, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction to find out more.
University open days give you the resources and experiences you need to make an informed decision about which university is right for you.
If you're attending multiple open days, we recommended creating a checklist to fill out at each, covering at least the top ten things you’re looking for in a university. Don’t forget to include both academic and social considerations on your checklist, so you can get a well-rounded view of what your life would look like at each uni. This process will help you compare universities and outline clear pros and cons for your top contenders.
So, are uni open days worth it? That depends on how prepared you are going into them, and how much you get out of them. If you follow some of the tips listed above when attending uni open days, you should come away from the experience feeling more confident about where you’re going to place universities in your preference list.
UQ typically holds open days for both Gatton and St Lucia campuses in August each year, and also provides an online open day experience. UQ Open Day involves talks, presentations and exciting activities across all our faculties, not to mention competitions, entertainment and the famous popcorn van! Keep an eye on our events page to find out when our 2023 open days will occur.