10 tips to get the most out of Open Evening

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September means a new start, back to school, and if you are in Year 10 and 11, time to start thinking about college. Attending an open evening is a great way to explore one option for when you finish studying your GCSEs.

College open evenings take place in the autumn term, and are a great way to spend some time to get an idea of what studying at sixth form level is like – whether it’s an A Level, Vocational or a combination of the two.

But how do you make sure your visit to a college open evening is worthwhile? Here’s our ten top tips to help you make the most of your visit:

1. Do your research. Find out what colleges offer courses you think you might be interested in. There will probably be a few different ones offering similar courses. The best advice is to go to as many open evenings as you can, you’ll get a feel for the college that feels right for you.

2. Plan your visit. Decide whether you want to arrive early or later in the evening, and make sure you get your transport to and from the event sorted before you leave. You may already have an idea of the subjects you would like to visit, but you will be issued with a map on arrival so can plan which areas you’d like to see on the night too.

3. Seek support. Chat to your school teachers, careers advisers, parents and friends about the options you have when you leave school. They will be able to advise and guide you and offer help with the decision making process when it comes to college courses.

4. Think of some questions. Open Evening is a great opportunity to meet existing staff and students – and a great chance for you to ask questions about courses and college life. Have a good think about what you want to ask before you come to the event.

5. Attend a Principal Talk. Not just for parents! The Principal Talks take place at each event and are a great way to get a good overview on how college will teach, support and guide you for next two years. They’ll also be guest student speakers who will give you an honest account of college life – and there’s the opportunity to ask questions too. In fact the talks are so popular, we’ve had to schedule in a fourth one!

6. Gather Freebies. Each department will have a range of materials for you to take away – including course leaflets which explain in detail what each course offers, how you will be taught and what the course can lead too. Gather as much as you can to take away and read later on.

7. Visit non-subject areas. As well as all of the subject areas, all other departments in the college will be available to visit on the night – including transport, finance, the college nurse and counsellor for health and well-being, the library and learning support. Visiting these are a great way to discover more about the day-to-day aspects of college – like buses and book loans.

8. Step out of your comfort zone. You may have already planned exactly what you want to study at college. But challenge yourself to visit at least one subject area on the night which intrigues or excites you – college is a great way to discover new courses and career paths.

9. Explore the campus. There are so many exciting areas of college to visit – from subject areas to social spaces and independent study rooms. Have a good look round departments, but don’t forget to check out the student centre, library and fitness suite – after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time here over the next two years!

10. Come back! Open Evenings are busy, buzzing and exciting. There’s also a lot of information to take in and many different options to think about. Our October open evenings are consecutive, and you are welcome to attend both nights if you want to. There’s also another Open Evening in May 2017 if you did want to have another look round.