Planning your day | University of Oxford
Student ambassador helping a visitor
Student ambassador helping a visitor

Planning your day

Top 10 tips for getting the most out of your Open Day visit

We know that many of you will be travelling long distances and maybe taking time off school or work to come to an Open Day. We want to help you make the most of your time here so that you can make an informed decision about what and where to study. Our tips below should help you make sure it's a worthwhile trip and answer the most frequently asked questions Open Day visitors have asked us over the years.

1.      Try to spend at least a full day in Oxford

There is so much to see and do on Open Days that we recommend you arrive early and spend a long day in Oxford. The earliest events start at 08:00 and the latest at 18:00.  There is no central campus in Oxford so you need to allow time to walk between venues as well as attend events. It's a good idea to start with a visit to your subject department in the morning and then visit a shortlist of colleges in the afternoon. This will give you the best chance to find out what it’s like to study and live in Oxford.

2.     Plan your journey or overnight stay

Oxford Open Days attract lots of visitors so you need to allow plenty of time to arrive into the city. We recommend that you add up to one hour to the usual predicted journey time to allow for extra traffic and road works around Oxford on the day.  Some of our events fill up quickly, so please do arrive early to ensure you get a space and to help us keep things running smoothly all day. Please read our travel advice when you are planning your journey. 

Help with the cost of travelling to an Open Day

It can be expensive to get to Oxford so some colleges are now offering to help with the cost of journeys to Open Days:

Terms and conditions apply. Further travel assistance schemes may become available and details will be announced on this page.

If you are travelling far, you might be able to stay the night at one of the Oxford colleges. This is often free of charge. Details about accommodation will be made available closer to the dates of the 2019 Open Days. Unfortunately colleges are usually unable to accommodate parents - the Conference Oxford or Experience Oxfordshire websites may help you find somewhere else to stay.

3.     Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know when event timetables are announced

We are currently busy planning events for the Open Days. We will make the timetables for the day available online around 6 weeks before Open Days and email these to everyone who has registered their interest. Once you have a timetable, check if any of your top priority events require booking eg a subject talk. Most events don’t need booking but you should still make a list of the events that are most important to you and plan your time to make sure you don’t miss them.

4.     Know the basics before you come and use the time here to ask questions to students and tutors

It is important to read about the Oxford application process before you come. This will help you to ask those questions that are really personal to you and that you haven’t been able to answer from websites and prospectuses.

We hope you will find all the information you need in the departments and colleges you visit, but if you have any more questions, please visit the Open Day Information Centre in the High Street, open from 09:00 until 17:00. Here you can ask more general questions about admissions, fees and funding, careers or simply ask directions

5.     On the day, visit subject departments first

Choosing a course is a really important decision and our advice is to prioritise getting all the information you need to make up your mind about this at Open Days when staff and students are all on hand to share their knowledge and experiences.  If you haven’t decided on a course yet, we strongly recommend that you read about the courses you’re interested in before you come to Oxford.  At the Open Day, you can find out more from subject departments and from students and tutors at any colleges that offer that course.

6.      Then visit some colleges – but don’t try to visit them all!

The most popular question on Open Days is "which college should I visit?"  Visiting any of the colleges will give you a good idea how the college system in Oxford works. You won't have enough time to visit them all so our advice is to draw up a shortlist before you come. First check which colleges offer your course, then read our advice on how to choose a college.

All undergraduate colleges will be open to drop-in visitors during our Open Days. There will be lots of opportunities to tour colleges, see accommodation, talk to tutors and students and attend events. Please check if you need to book in advance for any of these events.

7.      Find out about Oxford’s financial support

Oxford offers really generous financial suppport. Currently, 1 in 4 Home/EU students receives a bursary. You can pick up information about financial support at colleges or to talk to an expert and ask questions unique to your situation, please do come along to the Open Day Information Centre in the High Street, open from 09:00 until 17:00. Our Fees and Funding team will be available at a stall all day or you can attend their talk in the afternoon. (Time to be announced later).

8.     Ask about Careers

The world of work has changed dramatically since the last generation took up their first jobs. Careers are not always directly linked to the degrees you would expect – why not  ask staff about what former students are doing now; or ask students about their future plans and the opportunities like internships they have been able to benefit from. If you have a specific question about the life-long careers support or summer internship opportunities our Careers Service offers Oxford students, then please do come to see them at the Open Day Information Centre in the High Street, open from 09:00 until 17:00.

9.     Work as a team!

Lots of visitors come to Open Days in family groups, though students are very welcome to come on their own or with friends or a school group.

Sometimes students and parents/carers won’t be able to attend the same events eg if events are full, sometimes we ask parents or companions to give up their places for prospective students. There are lots of events which are just for parents/carers and everyone is welcome all day at the Open Day Information Centre. So you could use any time apart to ask your own questions or have a look around the city so you can compare notes when you get home.

If you are a student coming with friends, be aware it might be best for you to split up unless you are interested in the same course. Otherwise you might not get all the information you need from the day.

10. What to bring

  • Your plan for the day - write this down
  • Confirmation of any events you have booked to attend
  • Your shortlist of colleges
  • A copy of the Open Days Guide which includes a map – highlight the events you want to go to and the route between them
  • A raincoat, sun cream or both!
  • A pen for taking notes
  • A bag to carry all your papers
  • Comfortable shoes

Don’t bring

  • The car, if you can avoid it. Parking in Oxford isn’t easy... especially on Open Days.