When it comes to getting to know a university, there is no substitute for visiting and spending time on campus. Indeed, many people end up studying at universities they visited while at school.

As such, we strongly advise that you plan to visit more than one university when deciding where you might apply. This section gives guidance on three ways that you can do this: open days, taster courses and summer schools. 

We have listed a small selection of the opportunities out there. So, be sure to check with the universities you are interested in to see what open days, tasters, summer schools and special placements they offer.

 

Why University Visits are Important

University visits are a great way to develop a deeper understanding of student life, as well as giving a taste of potential things to come. They are also helpful in confirming whether you might or might not want to attend a particular institution.

In addition, being able to demonstrate that you have first-hand experience of university - even if just a short visit - is very useful for strengthening your UCAS application.

Universities appreciate that some students might face barriers to visiting universities, so many are cost-free or come with financial support depending on your situation.

 

When you Should Plan University Visits

You should aim to visit more than one university by Autumn Term of Year 13. While university visits tend to be focused on Year 12 and Year 13, there are also many opportunities for students in younger year groups. 

Top tip - Because places are limited, you may need to apply to summer schools or other activities well in advance. Deadlines for programmes in Summer 2020 will often be in Autumn 2019.

Research shows that the earlier you engage with universities, the better your chances of success. So, we recommend that you explore the options in Year 11 to get ahead of the curve! 

 

Open Days

Open days give you the opportunity to visit a university and to consider whether it might be the right place for you. You will typically meet with staff and students, and be given the opportunity to ask questions about student life, including courses, accommodation, facilities, finances etc.

UCAS Open Days Listings

OpenDays.com

WhatUni Search Open Days

 

Taster Activities

Taster activities are offered by many institutions to enable you to get a feel for what it would be like to study your subject there. You will typically experience some of the different teaching methods and gain insight into the facilities available.

UCAS Taster Courses Search Tool

Uni Taster Days

 

Summer Schools and Placements

A summer school is a course that is run by a university for a week or two during the summer school holidays. These are often residential, with pupils staying in student accommodation on campus. They typically offer intensive tuition in a certain subject, combined with extracurricular activities.

There are many benefits to attending summer schools, including:

  • gaining experience of campus life
  • studying a subject beyond the school curriculum
  • working out whether the host university might be the right one for you
  • meeting new peers and making new friends
  • strengthening your UCAS application.

Another benefit of summer schools is that they can create a connection between you and the university. For example, you may get to know some of the teaching staff for your course. As well as this, under certain circumstances, universities may give preference to applicants that have attended one of their summer schools.

Sutton Trust Summer Schools

Realising Opportunities Placements

Nuffield STEM Placements