Open days are not just a good opportunity for students; they also give family members an insight into university life. But parents shouldn’t try to “relive their youth”, says James Busson, co-director of student recruitment at the University of Sheffield. Instead, they are there to play a supporting role, to help students learn about a university.
First off, it’s a good idea to plan in advance and to do some research. “My parents and I avoided a lot of stress by writing an itinerary,” says Rebecca Hansom, 20, a student at Sheffield Hallam University who has also worked as a student ambassador.
University guides, such as the Guardian University Guide, can help narrow down your options, but once you’ve decided where you want to visit, some specific research will stand you in good stead on the day. Hansom says this could include: researching transport and parking; times and locations of talks, tours and stalls you want to attend; downloading a map of the campus; and putting together a list of questions. “It’s surprising how many families come to open days without a plan and, as a result, don’t get the most out of it,” she adds.
Expect an introductory lecture and course-specific talks, as well as the option to go on tours of the teaching facilities, student union or accommodation – but don’t feel like you’re a “slave to a schedule”, says Richard Harvey, the academic in charge of admissions at the University of East Anglia (UEA). “It’s important to chill out, wander around and get a feel for the place.” When you’re walking around, talk to students.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your mental health, please seek advice from a medical professional or the Samaritans helpline at 116 123.