University of Bath Parents' Blog

A blog for the parents of children looking to apply to university from 2014 onwards

Topic: Open Days

Choosing a course

📥  Courses, Open Days


Untitled (2)If your child has a passion for a particular subject or has already decided on a specific career path then choosing which subject to study at university should be relatively straightforward. However, if this is not the case then your child will need to do some thorough research into which subject to choose before making any decisions. The National Careers Service, Prospects, and TES Growing Ambitions are all excellent websites which can help students to decide what type of career would be right for them and to find information on which careers are associated with certain subjects. Also, many schools and colleges have dedicated careers advisers who will be able to help answer any questions that your son or daughter may have about choosing between different universities and courses, and how best to pursue a particular career path.

Narrowing down the choices

Once your child has decided on a subject or subjects to study at university, he/she may still be left with a large number of courses to choose between. The easiest ways for students to reduce the number of potential courses is to consider the entry requirements for each course, and to decide how close (or far!) from home that they would like to study. When trying to estimate his/her final grades your child should consider the grades that he/she have previously obtained and speak to teachers about what final grades they feel are realistic. Applicants are able to apply for up to five separate courses via UCAS, and in general it is advisable to apply to courses where the entry requirements are equivalent to or slightly above the applicants predicted grades, with maybe one or two ‘safer’ options which ask for slightly lower grades.

Comparing university courses

When it comes to choosing between courses there is a wealth of information online which can help your child to compare different courses. Both UNISTATS and Which? University publish detailed information on the relative merits of different courses and institutions based on feedback provided by current and previous students, as well as data from sources such as the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Several national newspapers also publish annual league tables which can be found on their websites- the most prominent are The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Guardian. The results of these league tables should be interpreted carefully however as each uses different criteria, and there is no guarantee that the criteria which are being used to rank universities are the same criteria as those that are important to your child.

Finding out more about individual universities

All universities produce detailed prospectuses which are typically available either online or in print form, and your child should read carefully any prospectuses related to the courses that he/she is considering. University websites will also publish detailed course information online for each of their courses, along with ‘Key Information Set’ (KIS) data which will allow your child to easily compare the relative merits of different courses at different institutions.

Most universities hold open days during the summer months (please see the UCAS website for full details of dates), and these provide an invaluable opportunity for your child to visit universities that he/she may be interested in and will help him/her to make an informed decision about which institutions to apply to. Attending open days will allow your child to get a feel for the university environment, view the various facilities available (students union, accommodation, library etc), and find out about the extracurricular activities, societies, or sports facilities that are offered. Your child will also be able to find out more details on the specific course that he/she is interested in studying by being able to look around the department’s facilities, speak to academic staff and current students, or even participate in a sample lecture.

Please click here to view our article on making the most out of attending university open days.


Helping your child to make the most of attending an open day

📥  Open Days

Untitled1In order to make the most out of an open day it is important for your child to plan in advance what he/she would like to get out of the day as open days are very busy and there won’t be time to see and do everything. If possible arrive early- the start of the day will be one of the quietest times and so not only will you hopefully avoid hold ups on the journey to and from the university (something which may be a particular problem at campus universities), but also your child will be more likely to be able to speak in detail to academic staff who may be much busier later in the day.

Planning a visit

When planning an open day visit your child should look at the information that the university provides ahead of the open day (usually online) and decide how best to use his/her time on the day. Some universities require visitors to book for talks or tours in advance and if this is the case then it is worth booking early as certain activities will be especially popular. Your child should also obtain a map of the campus and university buildings and make a note of which facilities (e.g. library, students union, sports facilities etc) he/she wishes to visit, as this will help to make the most of the time on the day.

On the day

One of the most important parts of an open day is the opportunity for your child to visit the department that he/she is interested in applying to, so remember to leave ample time to have a good look around and for your child to speak to the academic staff and current students about the content and structure of the course. The open day may be the only opportunity for you and your child to view the accommodation that is on offer, and so you should try to look at a number of different accommodation options so that you can see the differences (location, catered or non catered, en suite or shared bathroom etc) between the types of accommodation available.

Open Day checklist

When attending a university open day we would recommend that your child ensures that he/she:

  • Visits the academic department that he/she is interested in and attends any relevant talks and tours
  • Views as many accommodation options as possible
  • Visits the Students Union stand or building in order to find out more information about the range of societies and activities available
  • Visits the Student Finance/Funding stand or building to find out about any scholarships or bursaries that are available, and how to apply for them
  • Visits the library (students will spend a lot of time at the library!)
  • Visits any sports or arts facilities that they may be interested in
  • Takes the time to visit the local area to get a feel for the wider environment and what is on offer locally
  • Talks to as many staff and current students as possible about course content and life at the university
  • Talks to Admissions about entry requirements and personal statements

As a parent we would recommend that you:

  • Attend any parents’ talks
  • Attend any finance talks
  • Visit the funding stand to find out more about student loans and grants (especially any funding support which is specific to the institution)
  • Visit the security talk/stand for more information on safety and student well being while studying and living away from home