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A parent's guide to university open days

What is a university open day?

A university open day is when prospective students can visit a potential place to study and live. They showcase what a university has to offer in terms of courses, living arrangements, and social and educational facilities. You can learn more about a university by visiting it on open day rather than looking through a prospectus.

University Open Day

Open days help your child to make an informed decision regarding what and where to study. It allows them to have a real taste of university life. 

Should I go with my child to a university open day?

Visit our complete university open day section

You can do, but it's not essential. Your child will need to be taking the lead when visiting universities, as they will be the ones studying – and maybe living – there.

If you do go, be there for support, but make sure that you take a step back. 

How can I help?

There are several things you can do to help your child benefit from an open day:

  • Encourage, but don't take control – Prompt your child to book visits and decide which talks and tours they would like to attend when they are there. Try not to plan it for them!
    It is a good idea to encourage your child to think of some questions they might like to ask before the open day.
  • Help organise transport – If you can, take your child to the open day by driving them, accompanying them on the train, or by another mode of transport.
    Help pay for the journey if possible, or find out if a university offers travel vouchers for open days.
    Team up with other parents if their child will be attending the same open day, and take the job of chauffeuring in turns.
  • Have a plan – Think in advance about what you want to look out for; for example, accommodation, or what the transport to the campus from the local area is like.
    With two of you, you can plan to see things separately and cover more than if you do everything together.
    If there is a queue, save time by securing a place in it whilst your child is looking at something else.
  • Make some space – Consider leaving your child to it. Wander around the campus and explore the local area on your own.
    When you are with your child, stay in the background. Try not to embarrass them in front of university staff and other visitors!
  • Attend lectures designed for parents – This will also give your child space, and provide you with the chance to ask any questions you like. You can see what talks will be available in advance.
  • Take notes of anything important – Your child may forget something when thinking about the university after visiting.
  • Eat and drink – Both of you should be well-nourished throughout the day so that you don't become tired and fed up. There will be places on campus where you can sit down, have a break and buy something to eat.
  • Remain objective – You can give your opinion, but remember that your child's thoughts are more important than yours in this case.

Remember to be supportive and positive

The role of the parent is to be passive and helpful when needs be!