Open Days: Why you should try before you buy

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There are several good reasons to attend college Open Days. Here we have a look at the benefits of visiting a college before signing up to study a course.

Understand what a course is all about

Our first reason may be the most important one: if you know what a course actually involves, you’re more likely to complete your course.

Research carried out by DIT has shown that lack of knowledge about what is involved in a course is the main cause of people dropping out.

Attending an Open Day is one of the best ways to get a feel for a specific course. Arrive well prepared, with a list of questions you want answered. That way, you can be sure you are making a well-informed choice when CAO time comes around. Be determined to get answers to every one of your queries. Colleges are eager for your application. Therefore, don’t be hesitant in approaching any members of staff on the day.


Learn about other courses

An Open Day is also a great chance to learn about other courses for which you may apply. There are usually lots of seminars and talks on the individual courses. You should go to as many as possible, even if you are sure of the course you want. You might find a course that suits you better, or have your interest piqued by something different.

Both lecturers and students give presentations and answer questions at course seminars. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the lecturers,. They are generally very interested in their own subject, and like sharing their enthusiasm and passion.


Open Days also often features stands representing the various subject areas, manned by student ambassadors. Talk to current students to get their perspective of the college. This is a very useful part of an Open Day. If you know someone studying at the college already, see if they have time for a chat about their experiences. They can offer invaluable insights and advice to people who haven’t yet made up their mind about the subject they want to study. The social aspect of college life is very important too, so ask what student life is like. Be sure to pay a visit to the social and recreational areas such as restaurants bars and sports facilities. You should also have a look at the stands representing the various student societies and sports clubs.

Check out the campus

When you choose a college, its campus is going to be your ‘home’ for the foreseeable future. During an  Open Day you can soak up the atmosphere. Try to imagine yourself as a student there. Would you feel comfortable? Does the place seem welcoming? Is this a learning environment where you want to spend the next three or four years?

You should spend plenty of time checking out the different facilities and services on the campus by talking to staff in student services such as the accommodation office, the library and the IT department. This opportunity is especially important if you will be studying a course or subject that requires specialised facilities and equipment.

Open Days should be more or less ‘access all areas’ so you can see how modern the science labs are, or what kind of multimedia or IT equipment is available. Many colleges will have presentations and chances for you to try out the equipment yourself. Don’t be shy about asking for a go on the X-ray machine or to sample the produce from the culinary arts course presentation. Remember, they are trying to sell their college to you and will usually be happy to oblige your requests.

Ask for information not covered in the brochure

Open Days are also very useful for students who have needs and requests that are outside the usual run of things, and to offer a chance to gather information that is perhaps not featured in the prospectus. If you have specific questions about support services, access schemes or scholarship opportunities, an Open Day is an ideal opportunity to discover how the campus can cater for your own particular circumstances.

So, if you want to discover the best place to pursue your chosen area of study, attend an Open Day. Don’t rely on the glossy brochures or second-hand rumours. Investigate the place for yourself and get a taste of what third-level life is like, and you’ll be able to make your CAO choices with more confidence.

In the unfortunate event that you can’t attend on the Open Day, you should contact the institution in question as many can facilitate tours specifically organised for a class or individual, or they may be able to send a college representative to speak to your class. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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