Making The Most of Open Days

11:08 Briony Brake 0 Comments

Hello there! I promise I am going to talk about open days (particularly at Brookes) but as it's my first post I thought I'd start by introducing myself. My name is Briony, I'm a third year student combining Communication, Media and Culture with Sociology. I live in Marston, and spend most of my time eating, or in the JHB library. Yesterday, I worked as a student guider for Oxford Brookes at the Harcourt Hill site. I did a few campus tours in between answering questions about the CMC course at the end of taster sessions, and in the information zone. I thought I would write a little piece on my day, and the tips I'd give to students coming to the next one (19 Nov this year, or Spring 2017). 



When I was looking at universities in 2014, I stuck my head into hundreds of prospectuses. They are one of the most valuable forms of information you can get on universities because it covers everything, plus they're usually very easy to order for free. However, after you narrow it down that way, you need to get specific. I went to 4 open day events. Being a local, my school took a trip to Bournemouth university to have a look around. My friends all wanted to go to Bath so we went there too on a mini road trip. Yet the two unis I looked at that I actually wanted to go to were Leicester and Brookes. The applicant day I attended at Brookes was the last, and finalised my decision. 

There's a lot to do at an open day, and it can be hard to get all the best bits in, so start by deciding what the best bits are. If you're studying something completely new, then you need to go to a taster session, or subject talk on it. I spoke to a mother and daughter after one on Saturday, and the Mum had noticed how much her daughter eyes lit up when we started talking about the course. As a combination student, it's really important to experience this; to work out whether you want to do more or less, or either subject at all. I originally opted to do Sociology single honours, but picked Brookes so that I could study CMC and have ended up majoring in it. So go to subject talks and see if you're really interested. 


Look at accommodation, but don't focus on it. Halls are halls. Most university halls are pretty much the same with the exception that some people have an ensuite, while some don't, and that some people pay £102 a week, while some pay £200 and a deposit. I visited a lot of different halls at Brookes in my first year, and you probably will too from visiting friends. I discovered that while some were very nice and modern, there was nothing wrong with mine. I had a sink in my room, a wardrobe, a window, a door, a bed, heating and a desk. All rooms have this and that's all you need. I remember looking at accommodation in a few places and getting upset that I wouldn't be able to afford them. So I ordered my university accommodation preferences from cheapest to most expensive. If you are really fussed, then do it as early as you can, but trust me it is not the end of the world if you don't get the fancy studio flat with your personal bathroom. 

Check out the area, and find out how you're going to get anywhere. Are you going to have to walk an hour to get to your lecture in the morning? Are you going to have to pay hundreds of pounds for a bus pass? At Brookes you will receive a bus pass that allows for free travel on the U1 and U5 bus services which will get you from Wheatley to Headington to Harcourt and so on. So find that out because I didn't and got lucky with the Brookes Bus, but if you're researching other options, it's definitely worth the ask. Go for lunch in the city and find out how much there is to do. As a student having a lot of free activities is good - Oxford offers the Ashmolean, The History of Science museum, Christchurch meadow and any of the parks that are open to wonder. If your city is boring, you will be bored. It's not the most important part at all, but it can really make a university appealing. When I came here I went to Byrons and ate till I was stuffed (it's good to have food to contemplate things) and went into the covered market for a browse. I highly recommend you try the same. 



Ask questions if you can because people are often literally being paid to answer them. Lecturers can tell you pretty much anything about the course, and students can tell you about being a student and living in the area. Strangely I was asked more by parents about late buses and what I like here than by students. As someone who has lived here for nearly three years I can tell you what the student culture is. Realistically all universities have unions and societies and it's good to know that your life won't be three years of lectures and essays, but music and sports, or games and quizzes. Check out the union if you can and see how engaging they are with their students. It isn't important right now but when you're feeling desperate to do something to do that isn't work, it will be. Don't be afraid to ask about being lazy or about getting help because probably every student has missed a class at least once, or not understood an assignment or wondered how to find a particular text, or even just how to talk to lecturers or make friends. Ask students. They know. 

Ultimately I would recommend not going alone because family members always think about things you haven't. They want to know you're going to be safe and happy, and having that extra perspective really helps when it gets down to making your choice.

Finally, get as much free stuff as you can. Get the bag, the pens,the sweets - get all of it, but also get the useful things like prospectuses or course booklets. There's always going to be extra literature available, for example sheets with FAQs or job prospects or most usefully, the module availability and choices. So grab some free things, take your time, ask questions and look around. See where you feel comfortable! Good luck everyone!

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