Undergraduate Open Days: The Insider’s Guide

Last Saturday was the University of Surrey’s first Open Day of the academic year and the biggest that the university has ever held! Over two thousand people came to Guildford to find out about courses, accommodation, funding, employability and student life. It took an enormous amount of planning to make the day run smoothly, but judging from the feedback I received from students, it was a great success. And the glorious sunshine really showed our lovely campus in its best light.

Manning the English stand at the Academic Exhibition was great for meeting and chatting to potential undergraduates and I think it’s really important for an Admissions Tutor like me to meet students face to face as often as they can. It gave me a chance to hear about what A-level students are doing, thinking and feeling about the whole application process. And it’s great to find out what they are reading at the moment, both inside and outside school. From Chaucer to post-apocalyptic fiction, I was really impressed with the range of reading going on and I’m excited to think that we are going to get some enthusiastic and ambitious readers applying for our degree programmes.

The day also gave me a chance to answer questions from prospective students and their parents about English Literature, Creative Writing and life at Surrey more generally. From ‘which books should I read to get a head start on the course?’ to ‘where would I sign up for dance lessons?’ we did our best to give students the information they needed to start making informed decisions about university. I also gave talks that described the courses in a bit more detail and I hope I got across some of the brilliant and unique things about studying English at Surrey, like the range of options we have for students to choose from, expert staff who really care about the undergraduate experience, and the opportunity to do a Professional Training year.

Our student ambassadors also did us proud. They welcomed prospective students, handed out teas and coffees and piloted large groups of people around the campus without losing any of them! One of the benefits of having current students involved in our Open Days is that it allows potential applicants to pick their brains. Applying for a place at university can be an overwhelming prospect and it’s re-assuring to hear from someone with very recent experience of the process. And with so much information to sort through about the various degree programmes it can be very useful to ask questions to students actually taking the course at the moment.

The end of the day found us all tired but really pleased with how the day had gone. There were plenty of staff, like me, who had practically lost their voices from talking so much.  Only a month before the next Open Day on October 13th and we’re looking forward to it already!

Look out for further posts from me, and other members of Surrey staff, on our teaching and research, current events and useful topics like ‘how to write personal statements’.