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How to Make the Most of Uni Open Days

Choosing which medical schools to apply to is really important. You’re going to be spending the next four to six years there depending on your course, so you really want to find out which one is going to be the best fit for you. A great way to do this is by getting a feel for the university on open days, and this article offers you some handy tips to be fully prepared for them.

Narrow down your universities

There are 33 (or so) medical schools in the UK, and you’re not going to be able to visit all of them. Work out what you’re looking for first: do you want to live in a particular place? Is dissection important to you? What entrance exam do they require, if they require one? Would you rather have lecture based learning, or Problem-Based Learning (PBL)? Is early patient contact important to you? These are all things you should think about and that you should be able to find out online on their websites, and this will help you narrow down where to visit.

Research beforehand

This follows on from the advice before – once you’ve narrowed down which universities you’d like to visit, make sure you’ve read enough about them to have at least a rough idea of what to expect before you go. I’d also advise visiting multiple campuses if they have them. At many universities the medical school will be on a specific campus, however, you’re potentially going to be spending time on other campuses. For instance you might be travelling for society meetings, gym/sports, research facilities and so on. If that’s a possibility, check them out too.

Prioritise what you want to know

Definitely try to draw up some questions you want to know beforehand. Here are a couple of suggestions about questions you might not have thought of:

What’s the average rent for students after they’ve moved out of student accommodation? How competitive are the sports societies? How many contact hours are there a week, and how much extra reading? What scholarships and bursaries are available? How much clinical contact is there? What are the opportunities for intercalating? What does this medical school value most highly in its applicants and students? What opportunities to get involved in research are there?

Think about what’s important to you and what you’d love to do with your life and your time at university. There is no better place for opportunity, so make sure your medical school is going to give you exactly what you want.

Vary what you see

Open days will often run to their own timetable so this will be highly variable, but if possible, try and make sure you see as much as you can in as wide a variety as possible. If there’s open exploration, try and check out accommodation, social spaces, gym facilities, libraries, dissection rooms, lecture halls, and so on. If they’re running different events and workshops try and get an even spread of topics.

Also, if you get the chance and you’re not familiar with the city or surrounding area, check it out! As mentioned, you’re potentially going to be spending a good chunk of the next few years of your life here, and location is important. You might find you hate the hustle and bustle of large cities, or you might feel totally isolated in rural areas. Either way, it’s good to know what the surroundings are like and how you feel in them.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

You will likely be shown around by a current student, or given some opportunity to interact with one. This is the perfect opportunity to have an informal chat about the university and their experience, pros and cons. If you’re lucky they’ll be a medical student, but if not they’ll still have a valuable insight into how the university runs. They will know what the online learning service is like, or whether certain societies exist, or how good the social scene is. Make the most of them whilst you have the opportunity!

Words: Riley Botelle

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