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An Open Day Guide for Parents

Starting university is likely to be one of the biggest transitions of your child’s life. But, open days are an important way of getting them prepared.

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
22 Sep 2022

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If your child is struggling to pick a university, attend some open days with them. This will allow you to see what universities have to offer and whether your child would feel both comfortable and happy living in the area for three or maybe four years.

As coming along to any open days with your child will be incredibly beneficial, we've created a guide to getting the most out of them.


If your child is interested in attending open days at a few universities, make sure you book open days that don't overlap. Attending a few different open days will allow your child to carefully assess the different options they are considering.

Most universities ask students to register for open days in advance, so if you haven’t done it already, make sure you register your place through Whatuni.

There'll be a limit to how many tickets you can book, but if there's enough tickets, consider taking younger siblings along for the day if you think it might be useful to them.

Before An Open Day

Open days offer a packed schedule of activities, so it’s a good idea to go through the timetable of the day with everyone attending beforehand, in order to work out what the most important events are and when.

Make sure that you factor in time for lunch and breaks throughout the day too, as open days can be pretty tiring, even if it is solely through a screen!

The day will probably offer the following:

  • A welcome talk
  • Tours (often by current students) of the campus, accommodation, lecture theatres and university facilities
  • Taster sessions for subjects through seminars and workshops
  • Opportunities to ask questions

Prior to the open day, have a look at the university’s website too, focusing on areas you want to know more about. You may find answers to any questions you have on there, but if not, you can find out on the day through the online chat services the uni provides.

Sit down with your child and devise a list of questions you want answered during the event. You might want to categorise questions so you don’t overlook anything, for example:

  • The course (how much contact time is there with tutors? What subjects will be covered? Do students have to buy any materials? What careers do graduates end up in?)
  • Accommodation (what are the different options? Where is it located? How much does it cost? What is it like to live there?)
  • The area (is it expensive to live there? What are the local amenities?)
  • Finance (does the university offer any help with finding part time jobs? Is any financial assistance available?)
  • Pastoral care (how does the university support its students?)
  • Social life (What societies does the university have? What social events does it hold?)

On the Day

Make sure that both you and your child have a notebook or a notepad, with a number of pens, at the ready. Also ensure that you have with you and your child have a list of pre-prepared questions you wish to be answered by the end of the day.

Remember that open days are marketing opportunities for universities so they’ll want you to see their best bits. Try and look beyond this to see the full picture. Look around at students and staff, chat to them and see if everyone generally appears happy and if the university has a positive feel to it.

During the day, you’ll also be provided with a number of digital documents and prospectuses. Keep hold of these, as it’ll be useful to reflect back on when it comes to making that all important decision about which institution to choose.

Speak to any current students too, to get an idea of what it’s like to study at the university. You may want to ask them the following:

  • What do you think of the university?
  • What do you like best about it?
  • What do you find challenging about studying here?
  • What would you change about it?
  • Why did you decide to study here?
  • Are you glad that you decided to come here?
  • Would you recommend it to other students?
  • How would you describe the university?

If you attend any talks about the course or taster sessions for the subject, question the academics, too. They’ll be able to tell your child about what they’ll actually be studying which will help them work out if the course is right for them.

After the Day

Take some time to sit down with your son or daughter after each open day to talk about it while it’s still fresh in your minds.

If you feel like there’s still more you’d like to know, you can contact universities’ admissions departments with any queries you may have.


Book an Open Day Now.

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