The problem with university open days

A massive emphasis is positioned on university open days. Each and every yr, hundreds of thousands of students pay a visit to their picked institutions to get a far better feel of what they are genuinely like.

The notion is that they’re a great chance to discover about the university, accommodation and the neighborhood spot, as nicely as to meet prospective potential professors.

But, as an open day ambassador for my own university, I’ve always been perplexed by the vast number of people who attend these days.

Peter Dunn, director of press and policy at the University of Warwick, says open days perform a crucial role in student recruitment and that demand for them has elevated above the final decade.

“We have just had an open day, and we can even now see prospective college students eulogising Warwick and their go to on social media,” he says.

“Students, mothers and fathers and carers value obtaining a true existence knowledge of the university, especially a campus university this kind of as Warwick in which every thing from residences to examine amenities are collectively and effortless to pay a visit to on an open day.”

All of that is true, and open days can be eye-opening. But equally, they can be a facade, dressing up the university to search its ideal, and covering up the cracks in the walls.

Oliver Albert, an engineering student at the University of Cambridge, says: “Attending the open day was a excellent way of obtaining a come to feel for the city, meeting professors and speaking to folks applying for the very same course.

“But absolutely nothing can assess to really studying at university. The experience is extremely difficult to replicate.”

At a common open day you will get a warm welcome speak, some freebies, then a campus tour conducted by a existing pupil whom the university has very carefully picked and qualified to be a vibrant and enthusiastic ambassador.

The tour will conveniently ignore the significantly less picturesque areas on campus and you will be taken to see the most pristine hotel-like en-suites – shunning the closet-sized rooms the bulk of freshers are staying in.

When I’m giving tours about campus or showing guests the accommodation, students and mother and father have a tendency to request the same questions – none of which are probably to improve their knowing of what learning at the university is like.

Christopher Stephens, an accountancy and finance student at Cardiff University, says: “We normally have our open days in the summer time – and the environment is actually diverse between students when exams have completed.

“The day is really genuinely enjoyable and we do our best to show the university in a optimistic light.”

Despite providing the opportunity to look at the university for an whole day, open days aren’t usually great for obtaining a grasp of what attending the institution is really like.

As a end result, several college students are misled into picking universities based mostly on false impressions.

“I chose my university soon after being very impressed on the open day and was really thrilled to begin once I had my provide,” says Amrita Kaur, a politics, philosophy and economics pupil at the University of Warwick.

“But the university is nothing at all like how it was on that day and I didn’t really expertise what learning here would be like until I came to go to my buddy during term.”

I would argue that if you genuinely want to see what lifestyle at a university is like, the ideal issue to do is to come for a pay a visit to in the middle of phrase.

When lessons and lectures are in full movement, you get a appropriate really feel for the environment and day-to-day life at the university.

Most universities are a lot more than pleased for you to come in during phrase and have a appear close to. They often inquire recent students to accompany you too, so any inquiries you have can be answered.

It’s also a lot more individual, as you aren’t one of 10,000 site visitors and there isn’t a enormous planned show that has been place on just for you.

There truly is not a much better way of producing an informed choice than seeing the university in the course of term time.

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