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How to Make the Most of Postgraduate Open Days

If you’re going to university open days to help you figure out where you could do your postgraduate degree, you will want to make the most of your time on the campus. The days where you excitedly wandered around your undergraduate university as a fresh-faced youth will be a hazy memory by now, so you might need a reminder of how to approach and inspect your prospective institution. We’ve put together this article to help you prepare for open days, give you tips on what to do on open days and what to think about after open days as well. 

How can I prepare for an open day? 

Postgraduate open days are held throughout the year, and the sooner you can visit in the year the easier your decision will be. You should look at an institution’s website or consult a timetable so you can plan a trip accordingly – we even have our own timetable where you can book your place on open days.

Go to: Search for university open days

In light of Coronavirus, some events are taking place online, which saves you from having to travel across the country. It's still worth doing some research to find out more about the course to make sure it’s what you’re looking for. Check the prospective syllabus online and make sure it sounds like what you want and would enjoy – that way you can settle in for a tour you're excited about. 

In-person open days consist of taster lectures, talks and tours around the campus or department buildings and libraries. You might need to book some of these in advance, so plan your timetable and use your time wisely. If there's a member of staff you want to speak to, you should email them to see if they'll be around and available at the open day. For online tours, check out the agenda on the university's website or social channels. 

Whether you visit in person or attend online, you don’t want to go unprepared, so plan questions in advance – not only will these help you learn more about the course, but they’ll also help you stand out and be remembered. 

Go to: Read more about What to Ask on a Postgraduate Open Day

What should I do on an open day? 

Be focused and don’t worry about seeing everything. Speaking to course directors, learning more about the syllabus and focusing on the elements you care about most, such as accommodation, will take up most – if not all – of your day. 

Carwyn Edwards, a third-year PhD student at York University at the time of speaking to us, said: “Get the inside view of where you are applying to.”  

“Network with current students or people have been students where you want to go to and ask them to give you the warts and all view of the institution. You can try and do this when you go to an open day, but people are very likely to self-censor what they really think in the presence of the lecturers or open day staff.” 

Do a bit of digging on social media to find current students or alumni and get in touch with them for their honest take. It can’t hurt, after all, and they may reply with something you would never have heard otherwise. 

You'll only get as much out of an open day as you put in, so ask lots of questions that you can't get answers to online. See if the course features talks from industry figures, whether it has connections to help you get work experience and find out more about how it helps you enter the workplace. 

Fundamentally, ask what difference having a postgraduate degree will have versus to going straight into the workplace. 

Remember that you’re not just there to learn about the course itself. Take time to attend talks on financing and find out about accommodation. The school may hold a separate day for you to mix and meet fellow future students to live with, so take time to find out about activities like that. It shows that the school not only cares about your studies, but your wellbeing too. 

If you're visiting, spend an hour getting a feel for the layout of the campus and the town or city in general. Go to a local cafe or bar and take time to think about what you've seen – it's a good idea to give yourself time to digest the day and not rush around. 

Go to: Read more about Top Tips for Postgraduate Open Days

What should I do after an open day? 

If you’ve attended several open days, they'll probably all blend into one once the time comes to decide. Make notes on each place and course offering, listing the pros and cons, as this will make it easier to look back and compare. 

If you've missed something or forgotten to ask a question, send a follow-up email to staff or students you met on the day. That way you'll continue relationships which will serve you well when you decide where to go and it'll help demonstrate your interest. 

Can't get to open days? Make an appointment to speak to someone over the phone – you'll be able to ask questions that you can't find the answer to online. 

Next: Search for postgraduate open days


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