Well done you! If you’re utilising this post, it probably means you have swiped up an offer to study at the University of Bath. Celebrations are in order, although next comes the tricky part: making that daunting decision on which university to firm and which to select as your insurance. You also need to get your head down, as this is where getting the grades becomes very important (don't sweat it, you get out what you put in – work hard, and you’re laughing!).
To help with this tricky decision, here at the University of Bath, every Department holds a ‘Department Open Day’. Yes, we can’t skim past the fact that the free lunch is pretty attractive, as is another chance to stroll around campus and have another nosey at all Halls of Residences; but Department Open Days are really handy in helping you suss whether Bath, and your chosen Department is right for you.
Read on, as I’ll highlight some key ways that you make sure that you get all the wisdom you can wangle from a Department Open Day…
Here at Bath, we usually hold our Department Open Days from October through to April, and most Departments will hold a number of days to make sure they can squeeze in everyone who might be embarking on their course. Department Open Days are packed with prospective undergraduates just like you, wanting to take a gander at the course content, meet people who may be joining them come September and to grill lecturers on what makes Bath so great.
Make sure, whenever you’re waiting for a talk to start, or you’re meandering round campus that you try and chat to fellow potential students. Ask where they’re from, why they’ve chosen the same/similar course to you, what they’re studying at present and why Bath appeals to them. You could even dip into which Halls take their fancy or what societies appeal to them – it’s great to get chatting so you can see what the other people who may be on your course are like and to share your worries/excitements about University.
When attending Department Open Days, make sure you’re organised. You should be provided with a timetable/schedule of the day prior to arriving, so make sure you’re punctual to all talks/lecture tasters or presentations as this means that you can grab all the information available (and make a gleaming first impression!).
For me, when I attended my Department Open Day at the Social and Policy Sciences (SPS) department, I was lucky enough to have a 1:1 conversation with one of the course conveners for Sociology. This was immensely valuable as it allowed to me ask any questions bugging me- I got to intimately meet real academics from the Department and got to hear about all the different areas of cutting-edge research being carried out at the University from the ‘horse’s mouth’. This was really insightful, and it definitely helped shaped my decision to come back to Bath – for good.
I made my decision to firm Bath on my way home from the SPS Department Open Day. I found it very enlightening, making my UCAS response much easier than I had envisaged!
As embarrassing as it may be when Mum or Dad get out their notepad, or try and engage with other parents at Department Open Days (you don’t have to bring your parents however, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend the day alone, meeting other people without cringing owing to your Mum’s wacky questions!) – it is a good idea to bring your laptop or some paper to jot down key information such as how the course is assessed, semester dates, how many optional/compulsory modules you have to do or when the examination period is.
The long haul to Bath was definitely worth it, so naturally I had to inform Facebook! This seems like an age ago now, considering I'm edging towards the end of my first year!
It’s also favourable to work out how many textbooks you will need to purchase for your course and whether you will be spending time doing practical assessments or having ‘lab time’ as associated with many of the science courses offered at Bath. You can look back in writing when making your mind up on your favourite university, and this means all the information churned out by lecturers doesn’t go straight over your head!
It can also be useful to bring along a copy of the prospectus as from year to year, some parts of the course may change, so being able to edit these on paper will help you out in the long run. Whether it’s a change from coursework to examination, the offering of new optional modules or the changing around of lecturers – take note, so you can be well in the loop when replying to your offers on UCAS Track.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to whoever you see on campus, as you need your decision to be as informed as possible. Everyone on campus is friendly and should be approachable (a few may have sore heads from the night before, so may appear a touch grizzly!). Every Wednesday between 10am and 1pm, we have a Welcome Point at the foyer of The Edge where you can get answers from Student Ambassadors; on Department Open Days, most departments will pull in current students or Student Ambassadors to fill you in on whatever you feel you may have missed, so take advantage!
One of the mistakes I made when attending my Department Open Day was not plotting enough time for the day: I had to make the long trek from Cambridge which meant that in order to be home by a reasonable time, I had to leave campus at around 2.30pm and I regretted not having longer to explore and ask questions. If you feel it’s necessary, book to stay in a nearby B&B or hotel so you’re not rushed for time due to travel arrangements.
Having an extra hour or two means that you could be able to cram in a visit to the City of Bath which you might have missed when attending the Open Days here. I can’t say it enough, but as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and generally dreamy city, visiting the hub of Bath - the tourist and shopping district, is a must.
To make the day a tad easier for you, remember to print your ticket for parking on site or the for the Park & Ride service before the day. The University of Bath operates a free Park & Ride service from Lansdown, with the number 33 service running from 9am on many of the Department Open Days. Bath also offers a Travel Bursary Scheme to help particular applicants with the cost of attending Department Open Days and interviews.
Finally, following your talks, tours, presentations and sample lectures, make sure you check out the Student’s Union, the Library, and the Sports Facilities at the University of Bath. If you need directions, flag down a student in a red t-shirt, all of whom are ready and raring to help make your day as easy as possible.
Good Luck, and remember to make the most of your Departmental Open Days. We hope to see you at the University of Bath come September!