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Applicant Day

Applicant days - are they worth it?

Applicant days, visit days, UCAS days, post-offer open days – chances are, if you’re supporting students who have applied this year, you’ve probably heard them discussing these and working out what they’re all about. The good news is they all mean the same thing and are a great opportunity for applicants to find out more about their chosen universities.

Students are usually invited to attend one of these days once their application has been received by their chosen universities and the admissions teams have had a chance to review it. If an invitation is sent, they’ve either secured themselves an offer or maybe have an interview or audition to come.

The visits will often comprise a variety of activities, but unlike the more general open days earlier in the year, they are specific to the subject and course that students are applying for. They are given a chance to not only visit the campus, but actually see the department that they will be based in for the next few years. They can also have a chat with a student who is actually studying the same subject and can talk about which modules to pick and what it’s really like on a day to day basis.

While it may seem for many that the application process is a major milestone, getting that form sent off is just the first step. The spring term brings that crucial step of choosing a firm and insurance choice option. The applicant day is designed specifically to ensure that applicants are making the right choices, picking both a firm and insurance choice that they can really see themselves at and would be pleased to by studying at come September. This means gathering information on the course itself, reminding themselves of what the university is really like and thinking critically whether the two parties are the right fit for each other.

Missing out on an applicant day often means students have only seen their uni choices once. When else would such a big decision about the next three years of someone’s life be made on such fleeting visits?

Another important part of an applicant day is sorting accommodation. Most visits will offer an accommodation tour and this is well worth taking part in. Most universities will ask students to apply for accommodation later in the spring so having a bit more time to compare halls of residence in person is definitely worthwhile; catered v self-catered, en suite v shared bathrooms and city centre or campus-based are the key questions here.

Finally, a first visit to a university can often be a busy and overwhelming experience, there’s always so much to see and do that many people don’t get the chance to see more than the campus. So my final recommendation for anyone attending an applicant day is to spend a little while checking out the city. This will, after all, become home for the next three years, if not more.

So is an applicant day worth attending? I would say yes, and encourage your students to take the time and opportunity to critically evaluate the few universities that they are seriously considering to ensure they are making the right decision for them. Many universities also run these days at February half term and on Saturdays too, meaning a visit doesn’t have to mean a day of school missed. It’s a small investment to get that choice right!

Posted by Roshan Walkerley on Thu, 9 Feb 2017

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Roshan is part of the Higher Education Advisory Team at the University of East Anglia, focused on working with schools and colleges in Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire as well as European schools. He frequently travels and organises visits for school groups allowing their students to experience campus life and the city of Norwich first-hand. Roshan graduated in MSci Environmental Sciences, during which he completed a semester abroad at Macquarie University in Sydney, worked as a Schools Liaison Ambassador, and served as part-time Officer at his Student Union.

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