Get the most from Open Days by asking questions

Thinking about study at a university, polytechnic or other tertiary organisations? Check them out properly first, and Open Days are a great way to start.

Open Days can be a fun way to find out the information you need, get a feel of the institution and how they treat you, and the advisers there can really help you firm up your options.

Universities, polytechnics and some of the bigger providers hold flagship Open Days on campus as well as being part of regional events and school visits.

Giveaways helping lure you in

You can expect a bunch of giveaways (how many highlighters do you really think you’re going to need?), coffee carts, tote bags to lug the prospectuses and course details around in, and plenty of people just as confused as you are. The bigger ones even put on live bands, just in case that’s what gets you over the line.

There is some really important information you need to come away from an Open Day with. Here are some ideas about the questions you should be asking:

Getting in:

Speak with someone from Admissions and clarify -

  • When is the application deadline? Should you apply early?
  • What NCEA requirements do you need to get into the course(s) you are keen on?
  • What else should/could you include on your application to boost your chances?
  • What are their views on you possibly taking a gap year (if you want to of course)?

Your planned course/programme

Find our from someone teaching or associated with your course -

  • What is the course structure and expected workload each semester?
  • Where are the classes you’re keen on taught on the campus?
  • Will this course get you ready for your future career?
  • How are you going to be taught, and what sort of testing/exams will you face?
  • What is a good result to aim for?

What happens when you finish?

  • How will the institution help you find work or offer career guidance after you complete the course or degree?
  • What sort of jobs have previous graduates moved into in recent years?
  • What stage are these past graduates at five years after they leave?

Where you might end up living?

Make sure you check out at least one or two hostels (if available) and ask -

  • What is hostel life like - the rules, layout, security, noise level, amenities?
  • Will you get into your first choice hostel? If not, what other options are there?
  • Will the institution help you find accommodation in future years?
  • Costs – understand how much they are, when payments are made and what additional costs could you face in hostels?

How much it will all cost?

  • Come away knowing how much the course costs each year, and how much you will likely be spending each week.
  • Get a steer on scholarships available and how do you apply for these.
  • Check out what is covered by your student loan and what is covered by your student allowance.

Student Experience

Many Open Days have current students around to answer your questions. Their answers are often more relevant than the ones you may get from staff.

  • Why did you select this institution?
  • What are the best and worst things about the place?
  • Did you get the support you needed from teachers and other staff?
  • Out of class, what sorts of student activities are on offer? Do they have clubs/groups that you should be part of?
  • What is hostel life like (and what’s the best one to be in)?

Don’t sleepwalk to the future

It’s really important that you don’t sleepwalk your way into a really expensive course that doesn’t work for you. Asking questions at Open Days can really help you to clarify for you (and your family) just what you could be getting into.