Explore the university, the facilities, the town or city, and meet current students and staff on an open day.

Choosing a university or college is just as important as finding the right subject. With so many higher education experiences on offer, deciding where to apply can be overwhelming. An open day is the best way of getting a real taste of campus life.

See the facilities, and find out more about the courses from the people who live and breathe your subject – those who teach and study it.

Do as much research as possible to make the right choice for you.

If you can't visit in person, you might be able to attend a virtual open day.

How to prepare for an open day

It's important you make the most of your time when you’re on campus. Here are some top tips and things to consider ahead of an open day:

  1. Make a shortlist — there are over 350 unis and higher education colleges in the UK — so visiting them all is pretty much impossible! Whittling them down to a shortlist may take a while, so here are a couple of resources that might help: the UCAS search tool and our open days search tool.
  2. What to expect — don't worry; you won't just be left to your own devices when you attend an open day. Each uni will have planned an itinerary of activities that will run throughout the day, such as tours, talks, meet and greet sessions, and more. Check uni websites or speak to them to see if they have a planned timetable of activities.
  3. Plan ahead — it's also a good idea to have your own agenda in mind when visiting a uni or college. Consider what you'd like to find out more about, which departments you'd like to take a look at, and prepare some questions.
  4. Taster courses — got a couple of unis in mind? Why not see if they run taster courses? These are designed to give students a flavour of the course they're interested in applying to. Often they'll include a number of workshops and seminar sessions, led by academic teaching staff at the university, as well as campus and accommodation tours.
  5. Higher education exhibitions — an excellent opportunity for you to meet numerous unis and colleges in the same place at the same time. They're worth attending even if you're considering other options – professional bodies, recruiters, and volunteer organisations exhibit there too.

If you have any accessibility needs or require any additional assistance with your visit, make sure you contact the university or college disability support team – they’ll make sure you have access to everything you need on your visit, from hearing loops to ground floor accommodation tours.

If you do have a disability, there may be some other things you should consider alongside the advice we have included above. Here's some additional information you may find useful when planning your visit, including an  open days checklist (907.5 KB) and  questions to ask (646.12 KB) to get the most out of your visit. Find out more on our preparing for open days and visits page.

Open days signed video

In this signed video, we explain how to get the best out of visiting your chosen universities and colleges.

Things to consider

The day can go really quickly, so it’s important you structure your visit to make the most of the time you have onsite.

Here are some questions to ask university staff, and some questions to ask yourself – so you’ll be able to compare different universities and colleges when it comes to deciding on your final choices.

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Find the right accommodation

Finding somewhere you'll be happy to live is an important consideration when you're deciding where you want to study. To help you make the right choice, use our accommodation search to research your options and find both uni and private student accommodation. 

Don't be afraid to ask the awkward questions!

Juan, 24, is a psychotherapy student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). He’s registered blind and has a guide dog.

I arrived at UCLAN’s open day with my sister. We flashed my blue badge at the parking attendant and he removed a cone from a disabled bay and waved us in. That struck me as a good sign: they obviously took disability seriously. Every question I asked that day got a positive response. The team could accommodate me and my dog, nothing was a problem. I had asked the same questions at a different university and the staff sucked their teeth and looked uncomfortable. That’s definitely a warning flag!"

Juan's top five tips for open days
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions. The answers will help you work out if the university is willing to go that extra mile to support you.
  2. Go with somebody who knows you. It’s good to get a second opinion.  
  3. Seek out useful people – disability services, student services, accommodation services – and say hello. If they know your face, it’s easier to ask for help when you start term.  
  4. Talk to student ambassadors. The staff won’t know how noisy halls can be at 03:00, but the students will!
  5. Go with your gut feeling. I felt like UCLAN wanted me there and I was right. It’s a university, but it feels like home.