College Open Day season is here. Top advice "prepare in advance if you want to get the most of them"!
Open days are opportunities to get a better understanding of the college courses that interested you, to learn more about any colleges that appeal to you, and to experience first-hand the atmosphere of different campus environments. You get the opportunity to speak to lecturers and to other students already enrolled in the college. This is a vital part of your research process if you are to make the best possible course decisions.
Open days can overwhelming - third-level colleges and universities are big, busy places. Without proper planning and preparation, going to an open day can become a negative experience, which also makes it a missed opportunity. There are some easy steps you can take to avoid this and get the most out of your open day visits:
Check out when college events are taking place and create a personal calendar. You can check individual college websites, qualifax.ie or the guidance noticeboard in your school.
Try to attend as many open days as possible so that you can compare different colleges more easily. Many colleges hold open days on both a Friday and a Saturday. There may also be open evenings on offer. It is advisable for Leaving Cert students to go on Saturdays where possible, so as to avoid missing valuable class time in this importan year.
It's a good idea to take time to explore the range of courses on offer and go through the college prospectus in as much detail and possible before going along to an open day.
Identify the courses of particular interest to you at the college concerned. Consider the pros and cons of each. Look at the differences between one course and similar courses in the same college, or in other colleges.
Make a list of anything more that you want to find out at the open day event e.g.: what mandatory/optional modules are involved in the course; any subjects/topics you are not familiar with; how much class contact there is; any project or group work involved; any time spent abroad; internship opportunities etc.
Check college websites and social media feeds for other useful information about the open day, such as campus maps and guides, videos, schedule, the timing of talks and tours.
Your plan for the day should allow time to attend any formal talks and tours on offer, as well as time to just soak in the college atmosphere. Check out the academic facilities available - libraries; computer rooms; science labs etc, but also check out the non-academic facilities such as residences, sports facilities, food halls etc., not forgetting transport links. Find out how you can keep in touch after your visit, if other occur to you later on.
After the open day, take some time to reflect. Discuss your thoughts and ideas with friends and family. Compare what you have learned about each college at the different open days attended.
Having attended a number of open days, it may be helpful to make an appointment with your school guidance counsellor to get help with clarifying your thoughts and working towards having an order of preference list for your CAO application.
Read more: New apprenticeship options offer alternative to CAO
The CareersPortal Team