The Oxbridge open days are here. Are you ready for the opportunity to learn more about where you could be studying for the next three or more years?
Applying to Oxford can be an exciting time. There are many amazing courses to choose from, all of which offer a unique opportunity. However, it can all also be rather daunting. Here are some tips and advice based on my own experiences.
Book your Oxbridge open day place in advance
Go to the open days. Open days are the best way to explore both different subjects and colleges. Many colleges require advance confirmation/booking (which is free to do) in order to manage numbers, so do make sure that you check beforehand. Many people at the Oxford events were actually attending two open days – one where they looked at different departments and the other where they looked around at a few colleges.
The Open days in 2021 are being held virtually, but ordinarily, If getting to Oxford or Cambridge is an issue, there are the regional Oxbridge conferences that take place around Easter time across the UK. These are essentially open days exclusively for Oxford and Cambridge that are held at multiple locations.
Travelling to open days can be expensive and this should not stop you from attending one. Here is a list of universities that offer bursaries to help students attend open days. If you cannot see a university or college on the list that you would like to visit, call them to ask if they provide financial support or if they can start doing it.
Oxbridge handouts and freebies
Take the freebies! Everyone loves free things, and there will be lots on offer at the open days. In the case of Oxford and Cambridge, it is worth noting that significantly more prospectuses and leaflets are given out as every college and department will have their own. You’ll often find at virtual open days there are downloadable resources shared.
University-wide prospectuses are also available. These include details of every course offered, the colleges that offer them, admissions requirements and also thorough descriptions of the course. At Oxford open days, there are small interview guides available and handed out to students which offer guidance on how to prepare for an Oxford interview. These are the only official guides produced by Oxford and are free so they are worth looking for!
Plan Your Oxbridge Open Day Questions
Ask lots of questions. If you have a question but are afraid that it may be somewhat silly, chances are that someone else has also had the same thought, so do ask! Open days and the regional conferences are a great place to ask current students anything that you may not necessarily want to ask a senior admissions tutor.
Types of questions you could ask are:
Make sure you take full advantage of open days to help your university decision making by properly preparing which we cover in our ‘How do I prepare for a university open day?’ article.
Final Oxbridge Open Day Words
If you cannot make any open days/regional conferences do not worry. It is still possible to arrange to view a college and/or a department on an individual basis – just call the relevant college/department and take it from there. I remember showing many prospective students around my college and department throughout the year who were not able to make the main open days.
Keep an open mind. Many of you may have a set idea of what you want to study at university, be it Medicine or English, etc. However, thoroughly research the course specification and syllabuses of the undergraduate degree programmes as these vary significantly between academic institutions. It may be the case that a course you have not considered is actually more suited to what you are interested in than something which you previously thought.
Finally, have fun! Applying to university is more than just a formal requirement as you are making a decision on what and where to invest 3 (or more) years of your life in.
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