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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:50 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:38 am
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Location: Warwickshire
DS just received GCSE results and will be starting in lower sixth next week.

I've noticed a couple of uni's he's interested in have open days in the next couple of months, but this seems a bit soon for 2020 entry.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:25 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:59 pm
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What rules do your school have about how many Open Days they can attend on a school day? Ours allow 3 days out for Open Days, which means a) they either miss 3 full days of school (can be difficult if you are doing particular subjects) and b) if you want to see more than 3, some of them have to be done on Saturdays. Our school has a lot of sport on Saturdays, which means, if your son is sporty, they then miss a lot of matches!

Depending on how many universities you think your son may want to visit, you can do some in Y12 and some in Y13 (remember if he is doing certain subjects at Uni, the UCAS form is in, in October, for the majority it is in in January). Personally, I don't find Open Days that useful as they can be a bit of a bun fight and can be very overwhelming - but to give a general feel for a place they are OK. We have been to three and the 2 one was deemed OK until the third one was seen and ds realised the 2nd one actually wasn't ok, if you see what I mean.

Open Days tend to be in September and June (before and after the "real" students have left), otherwise the campus is far, far too busy, so Y12 summer is a good time to go. Often the early September ones are geared more for the current Y13.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:41 am 
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I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this one. I took my DS to a college open day at Cambridge when he was in YR 11 as the opportunity came up and it was helpful to see what would be needed if he went down that route. With dd who is just moving into Yr13 we have done some open days back in June/ July and are now doing a few more in the weeks ahead.
I think it would have been too much to fit in at the start of yr 12 as she moved schools and needed some settling in time. If you have time to go to one or 2 it at least gives your ds a chance to look at what he might be working towards with a levels.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:08 am 
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Its not too soon but I would be wary of being out of 6th form in the early stages as most find it quite a jump from GCSE so you don't want to make it any harder.

I would definitely look for any Saturday ones if your DC isn't tied up with games etc.

It's worth DCs doing a bit of prep on the internet first and making a list of criteria they want to consider so there is some focus to a visit.

It maybe that just visiting some locations without it being specific open days can be helpful in the early stages. These can be fun family days out without too much pressure.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:33 pm
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I echo the advice given so far.

We started to take a look at the start of year 12. The first one we visited was UCL. What struck us was that it was parents who took the lead on the open day. We left my daughter to head off alone into the introductory talk and sample subject lectures they laid on whilst we wandered around to get a general feel for the place and when we met her later, she said that she was pretty much the only one in the lecture theatre without her parents and for many of them, the parents were the ones making notes and asking questions. That was a pattern repeated at the other open days we attended. We attended three I think and gave up after that because in my daughter's view, they were all the same - the same talk about positions in league tables, the same plodding tours of different accommodation blocks, food fairs, lots of enthusiastic student ambassadors in brightly coloured polo shirts and face paint, and endless cotton bags and leaflets. She quickly worked out that she could do the course research online - structure, units, modules, projects, etc - narrow her choices down and then we'd visit the university on a weekend as part of a mini break or if we were heading past just so she could get a feel for the campus, city, etc. We saw a lot of places as a result - over a dozen I think - but only attended three set-piece open days. I remember wandering around a very closed and desolate Keele campus on a Sunday evening last summer as we were coming down the M6 from a weekend away and called in :lol: .

She didn't miss any school days for open days because the three we attended were on Saturdays, so she used her permitted leave to take the days needed for the interviews she had.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:59 am 
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That sounds depressing anotherdad (the open days not your response to them).
I tried to avoid going to many heads' speeches during the process of deciding on secondary schools since they pretty much all said the same thing.
I would have hoped universities would be more individual but I guess they are all selling themselves in this day and age.
But plenty of UK weekend breaks sounds like a good option!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:13 am 
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They were very same-y. Apparently, UCL's talk was dominated by slides demonstrating how much stronger they were than Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial in some aspects which I'm sure is the case but my daughter said that they seemed quite obsessed with those three competitors. It was the first open day she attended and it removed UCL from her list because of the feel she got from that day. They are all selling themselves these days. With so many good online sources of information, it is a good idea to really narrow down the choice by looking very carefully at the courses, how they're delivered, which units are mandatory, which are optional, how flexible transfer to related courses is, whether a year in industry is available, etc. For my daughter she had a particular set of criteria that knocked out quite a few universities.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:14 am 
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Location: Reading
It depends on the course.
DD is aiming for VetMed in 2020 so the application date is in October next year. Quite a few of the open days are in October which might be a bit late so we are spreading visits around. She did a 3 day taster at Cambridge last Easter, then Surrey in June after GCSEs were finished. We have Bristol in September and Liverpool during October half term as we are up that way on holiday anyway.
The other reason for spacing out is that they have all been Saturdays and she has a Saturday activity that she doesn't want to impact too much.
For her the 2 visited so far have been very useful - one definitely on the list and one definitely not. This was around campus layout rather than course content so might not have been obvious from a brochure.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:22 am 
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Location: Essex
DD is just going into year 13 and by the first weekend in September will have visited 11 universities, a couple of them twice (campus tour then returning for a full open day), some of them just for a campus tour, one for a taster day. All places where the course looked as if it was what she wants - but in the case of one, the open day taught her that the realities of both the course and the actual university definitely weren't what she wanted (liked the city, though) and one of the others, course okay but campus a disappointment (not really sure on what level) and actively disliked the town. Those two were on the same weekend trip away - Friday and Saturday of study leave fortnight; all per exams were in the first four days.

The city one which taught her that she really wanted a campus university. would be 'up there' for most people on paper, btw. Before she visited, she actually had no strong views, campus vs city.

Campus Tours may not show everywhere (accommodation tours included at UEA, not at Sussex for example), but you do get a reasonable feel for the place and may be able to arrange to speak to academic staff separately about your course. DD hasn't done this, but DS1 had a good hour of the time of a professor at UEA, including a tour of the labs etc.

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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:19 am 
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Don't bother is what I would say! Wait till they have looked at courses online, do the research that way, narrow it down and then visit. Open Days are in my view a hideous bun fight populated by over-zealous parents and kids mopping up freebies. Better to visit on a normal day, and then after offers on post-offer days when the wheat will have been sorted from the chaff. I know this is not a popular opinion but I venture it anyway. DS2 is going into Y13 and has visited 2 universities, one because his sister is there and one because his brother is about to start there. If they need to visit more than half a dozen I would say that they haven't done their preliminary research well enough, but again, I know that is not a popular view. :D


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