How to survive your Open Days
By Hithin Noble
1. Research the medical school beforehand. It is a well-known fact that applying to medicine is competitive. Your main initial goal should be to secure as many medical interviews as possible, and hence be tactical when applying. Understand the admission requirements for that respective university: such as UKCAT cut-offs and A-level requirements. Also look at the number of applicants per year, and the ultimate size of the cohort to determine your chances. I know this sounds daunting, but it’s something that really gives you the best shot of securing that prized offer.
2. Open days are all about giving you the best possible insight into what that medical school has to offer. Take a look around, go on the guided tours, and attend the specific sessions. Do be aware that due to demand, some may require advanced booking. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! From medical students of all years, finance advisors to medical school admission staff: use them. Definitely take the time to understand the course the university offers. Is it a PBL- based or traditional course? Are there options to intercalate? What’s the typical academic week like? You will be spending 5-6 years of your lives studying at the university: it is essential that you have an idea of what you are getting yourselves into. Furthermore, this is exactly what universities look for: they want students that are actually interested in their courses, and hence are able to convey this enthusiasm during their interviews. It is small things like this, that really set you apart from the rest of the applicants!
3. The best piece of advice I was given was whether I could imagine myself studying at that university. I feel this is just as important as applying tactically. This doesn’t mean going to some complicated mind palace, but just taking the time to reflect on what you learnt from the open day. Can you imagine yourself walking round the campus? Can you envisage yourself enjoying the course? Can you see yourself studying here for at least five years? These are questions you’re not fully going to answer until you are actually studying the course. Nevertheless, your previous experiences and own personality will be invaluable here. The sense of adventure and excitement I had after visiting certain universities gave me the reassurance that I should be applying there. Whatever these feelings are- you will it know it when they hit you J.
4. Don’t forget the general stuff as well. Visit a range of halls of accommodation at the university, to gain a sense to what to expect come when you start university. I found it intriguing how different halls of accommodation were just so different- some certainly a LOT better than others! Also remember to soak in the setting and enjoy the overall hustle and bustle that an open day can offer. One thing I definitely didn’t consider is the actual location of the medical school. How far do you want to be from home? Would you like to be in a city or a smaller town? I can safely say my university experienc