Hello again and a warm welcome to all the blog readers old and new! The last couple of posts I have published on this blog gained a massive response. In all fairness, I did publicise these considerably more, as I’m starting to become proud of the way I write, for the first time in forever. Also, I think reading an honest review of a life experience is naturally going to draw more people in.
I think it also helped that the life experience I discussed was about one of the greatest manmade life decisions you find yourself in. Obviously, births and weddings are some of the greatest joyous occasions within someone’s life, however these are natural and commonplace within society for both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But, one of the greatest decisions a person can face, particularly for myself in my 19 years of living was making the decision to come to Warwick University. Before coming to university, I had my heart set that I was going to go to university. Yet, the abundance of choices available as well as the sheer variety of History degrees I could choose was astonishing, and I was awestruck by the wide scope in which my degree could take me into the future. With the ‘open day’ season looming again, and my campus becoming infiltrated by clean-faced, dewy 16 and 17 year olds looking around prospective universities in order to work out a future path, I thought I’d write a few tips for how to approach open day season. With these few, simple tips in mind, my aim is that your ‘open day season’ is utilised to the full, and you really do make an assured decision within yourself, and that you are self-appreciative of the future opportunities that you really can grasp with both hands.
Tips, here we go:
Before going to any open day, make sure that you’ve done a little bit of research about the university and some basic statistics before you go along. This way, you can truly attempt to immerse yourself in university life and really picture yourself as a student. For example, before coming to Warwick University, you should know that it’s University of the Year. (Yes, I am definitely plugging my own university, but in all fairness it is wonderful and I totally made the best decision for me). By immersing yourself into university life and knowing a little about the university, you’ll be able to work out if this is the university for you. This leads me on to number 2…
- Don’t lie to yourself!
Are you going to the university because it’s the university for you? Or are you going because of credentials that it has that will allow you to succeed in the future? From personal experience, I looked around Cambridge University and Kings College London respectively and loved them both in isolation. However, when comparing them to Warwick University, I did not feel as ‘homely’ as I did when I was welcomed onto my (now home) campus with open arms. Pick where you feel comfortable within yourself, and where you can truly picture yourself studying. Obviously, some universities have greater reputations and are viewed considerably more prestigious than other comparable universities and courses. But, make sure you are content with yourself. You are the only one you have to please. Your parents can coach you and teach you one way, but universities teach you to be comfortable in your own skin. Practice this as early as possible. You don’t want to be stuck in a rut with the way you’re living by Fresher’s Week! University is all about freedom, and this should be encouraged through your university open day season choices.
- Go to as many as possible!
Personally, I loved the whole feel of an open day. I remember the feeling of when I went on my first ever open day, 16 year old Sophie and her dad sitting in a lecture theatre at KCL, in the centre of London, right by the River Thames and the Strand (one of my favourite places). I felt successful within myself, and thought that was the place for me and that was it. But, as I trawled up and down the country not too dissimilar to all my peers, I quickly realised that KCL was not ‘the place’. I would not have been able to do that if I had not gone to many open days. By going to lots, you’re able to make a rational, executive decision and realistically compare universities. I must have read around 15-20 prospectuses, and went to open days for: KCL, Cambridge, Warwick, Royal Holloway and Edinburgh.
- Explore, have fun!
On an open day, it’s definitely important to make sure you have fun! You’ve probably got a day off school if it’s during the week, so make the most of it! Explore the surrounding areas, and see what’s around. Personally, I love a campus university, but the majority of my friends go to city universities where they are in the middle of the hustle-bustle. I prefer to be slightly away from that, and have my own quiet space that is truly mine. But, if you’re at Warwick (sorry, I labour on, but I love it so much!) go into Coventry and Leamington Spa, and maybe even Stratford. You’ll get a real feel for the type of society you’ll be integrating with, 24/7.
- Questions, questions, questions.
Ask. Enquire. Query. Request. Demand. Think. All synonyms for the word ‘question’, according to Microsoft Office 2013 Thesaurus. But, this is an absolute must. Don’t be a passive person on an open day and walk around, silent, not doing anything and not getting involved. This isn’t the way to live a university life, so don’t make it a challenge for yourself when you get to university. At open days, there are always plenty of people around and available to answer any problems you may have. It may be as simple as asking where a room is, all the way up to ‘Would you send your son or daughter here?’. As well as this, make sure you question departmental convenors on any worries or concerns you may have for your child, or yourself. In this way, you can truly make sure you’re entering a degree programme that is tailored to the necessities and demands that you want for yourself. If someone cannot take questions at the time (shame on those particular universities), make sure you take down contact details in order to pester ask politely any questions that you may have once you have left the open day.
Similarly, if you know people who are already at the university you are looking at going to, ask them questions! Luckily, I found myself in this situation, and I asked them LOTS of questions. It really helped me make the decision to apply to Warwick and make it my firm choice. This is particularly helpful if you have any questions about accommodation, as they can really tell you what it is like to live as a student at the university, and give you an honest opinion! Open day helpers are not going to address regular maintenance issues with the kitchen and bathrooms, but your friends will tell you this.
- Don’t stress, relax.
Really, don’t. Do not stress about grade requirements. Many of my friends, including myself, did not receive the full requirements for our respective universities, yet we still got into our firm choices. It must be stressed that this is not the case for all universities. From last year, if memory serves correctly, universities such as Oxbridge, Durham, Exeter and Bristol were not lenient with grade requirements, and I know someone that got through Warwick in ‘clearing’, even though they got higher grades than me! Just make sure that you’re a balanced, well-rounded human and I’m sure all universities would LOVE you to study at their establishment! But, the love has to be mutually shared between both university and the student. Make sure the degree you are applying for is what you truly want to do. Don’t go to university just because all your friends are. If the way in which you learn is suited to other alternatives, go down those routes. University is not for everyone, and it’s an expensive decision to get wrong. University isn’t free!
I really hope these few tips will help you make well-guided, secure decisions for which universities to look around, apply to and potentially be a student there in a future academic year! Now, for song time (the bit you’ve all been looking forward to, I’m sure). It’s a bit of an ‘out there’ decision, but I’m going to play a song that whenever my mum hears, she always references it towards me and the similarities between the song and my university life. Plus, it’s Meryl Streep singing and we all love Meryl Streep. The song is ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ from ABBA but made famous by Meryl. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi7OXmTmgGg