Colleges around Ireland are beginning to open their doors to Leaving Cert students this month, and making sense of the vast amount of available information can be tricky. Open days provide prospective students with an opportunity to get both course-specific information and a general feel for what a college and its students are like, and as such students should aim to attend as many open days as possible. Experiencing college life for a day can be great motivation for students in fifth and sixth year, and this guide contains all the information you need to get the most from college open days.
Preparation is key in all aspects of the Leaving Cert, and open days are no exception. Identify the colleges that interest you in your CAO handbook and refer to college websites for open day dates and times. Many of these websites also provide students with timetables of any open day talks and tours. Consider attending some general talks and tours as well as course-specific lectures to get a better idea of what college life is like. If you’re planning to go with friends, make sure that everybody is interested in learning from the experience and remember that it may be necessary to split up in the event of clashing talks or tours. College maps can usually be found online, as can information on travelling to the campus.
Remember to pack paper, pens, and lunch or lunch money before leaving home on the day. Arriving early and sticking to your plan will help you to get the most out of open days. Students and staff will be on hand to help throughout the day, so try to talk to as many people as possible to get a feel for the college and its courses. Take notes in lectures and talks, and take a copy of the prospectus and any other important material. If you want to know about course requirements or content or have a question about more general aspects of the college, make sure to speak to a student or staff member before the day is out. Open days are designed to inform prospective students, so take full advantage of the opportunity and ask for help if necessary.
Open days shouldn’t be forgotten about when you leave the campus. Taking some time to look over your notes and other material will allow you to become familiar with important information. If you find something that you don’t understand or need more information about a college or course, do some research on the college website or make an email enquiry if necessary. Store the information in a safe and easily accessible place for future reference. After attending all of the open days that are relevant to you, discuss your options with your school’s careers advisor and begin to organise your chosen courses by order of preference.
Good preparation, organisation, and follow-up can allow all students to get the most from college open days. Identifying your needs and making sure they’re met no matter what will ensure that your open day experience is informative and exciting.