University Open Days And How To Survive Them Part II

Back in July, I wrote about four university open-days that I’d been to with Poppy. I shared our experiences of Durham, Liverpool, York and Sheffield and included my tips on how to make the most of these days. Since then, we’ve been to three more. I can’t emphasize how important it is to visit as many universities as possible. A course with the same title will often vary from institution to institution. It goes without saying that the course is what matters the most. But, I believe that the university itself is really just as important. I need to know that wherever Poppy goes, she’ll be happy. I want her to feel comfortable with the location and type of uni. It needs to “be her.” Fundamentally, it comes down to the size and type of city and whether it is a campus or a civic university. Poppy favours a small city and a campus university.

Bristol University Open Day

Our first visit this term was to the Bristol University Open Day. We drove down on the Friday afternoon ahead of the open-day on Saturday. Time away with Poppy is very precious and incredibly enjoyable, so it always feels like a special occasion. It took over five hours, without any stops to get there, mainly because we were thwarted by frustrating 50mph speed restriction on much of the motorway. However, we got there safe and well, checked into our hotel, got changed and headed out for dinner.

what lizzy loves bristol university open day

We have been to Bills restaurants in Brighton, Durham and Leeds. We always enjoy it, so went to the Bristol one. It didn’t disappoint.what lizzy loves cocktails Bills Bristol

what lizzy loves cocktails Bills Bristol

Our first post of call on the Saturday morning was the “Welcome to Bristol” talk. Such a beautiful building.

what lizzy loves Bristol University Open day

After that we went to chat to the student ambassadors and lecturers at the anthropology stand, (Poppy wants to study anthropology). The admissions tutor was there so we asked if there was anything specific she looks for on the personal statement. She gave Poppy some excellent advice which she has utilised in her drafts.  If you’re in a similar position, don’t be afraid to ask directly. They may be able to give some very useful guidance.

Finally, we went to a talk about the anthropology course. Poppy liked the sound of the course so we left feeling quite excited and happy. Bristol is a civic university and the buildings are  relatively spread out. The anthropology building is gorgeous, but quite a way from the majority of student accommodation, so this is something Poppy will need to weigh up, because she really would prefer to live and study on campus.

what lizzy loves Bristol University Open day

 

what lizzy loves Bristol University Open day anthropology

Birmingham University Open Day

A week later we went to the Birmingham University Open Day. We had high hopes because we know a lot of people who’ve visited and sung its praises. Again we drove down, but on the Saturday morning.

what lizzy loves Birmingham University Open day

It was a gorgeous autumn day and the campus looked spectacular.

what lizzy loves Birmingham University Open day campus

Birmingham university open day

Birmingham university open day

The welcome talk was in the music hall, a fabulous building and we learned of a huge upcoming “refurbishment” of the campus. We were very, very impressed and we both had a very good feeling about Birmingham University.

Birmingham university open day

After a coffee and a sit in the deck chairs, we went to a talk about the course.

Birmingham university open day

Birmingham university open day

Birmingham university open day deck chairs

 

campus Birmingham university open day

Clock at Birmingham university open dayWhat lizzy loves leopard print coat

Birmingham university open day

And here the day changed.

I have never, in all of Poppy’s 17 years, seen her so deflated. I can tell you too that I felt every bit as disappointed. The course turned out to be very different from what we anticipated from the prospectus. The degree she was looking at was at most 25% anthropology. The rest was African Studies. Now Poppy went to Tanzania over summer. She spent time with the Maasai and learned about their culture. She was fascinated and has a particular anthropological interest, which is why this course, on paper at least, appealed. However, it transpired that the majority of the content was about African literature, African language and so on. It just wasn’t what she wanted. She was devastated because she’d fallen in love with the campus.

So, with heavy hearts and more than a few tears, we went home.

Birmingham university open day

St Andrews University Open Day

I have the best parents, both of whom are wonderfully supportive in every imaginable way. My dad, for example, goes to watch Harry’s goalkeeper training session at every possible opportunity. My mum has researched every anthropology department in the country and she and my dad went to St Andrews over summer to do a recce. Because of that, Poppy really wanted her granny to come with us to the St Andrews Open Day, so we had a three-generation girls’ day out.

St Andrews university open day prospectus

We travelled by train and the first leg, Preston to Edinburgh was fine. But, our connection to Leuchars was cancelled for reasons still unknown. Not only that, the subsequent one was too, so we arrived over an hour later than planned. It meant we had barely any time to do anything other than have a very quick look around the main quad, before it was time for the subject talks.

St Andrews university open day

It is a stunningly beautiful site, adjacent to the beach and the glorious autumn day made St Andrews shine even more.

what Lizzy Loves St Andrews university open day

St Andrews university open day

St Andrews university open day

St Andrews university open day

St Andrews Open Day

As always, there were plenty of excellent student ambassadors, easily identifiable by their red gowns.

St Andrews university open day student ambassadors

what lizzy loves St Andrews university open day

We went to talks about social anthropology and philosophy. Both were excellent and Poppy is now considering a joint honours degree. I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I was beginning to worry that she wouldn’t find anything that appealed to her as much as the course at Durham.

St Andrews university open day

She has one more open day left in Edinburgh, (my mum will take her because I’ll be away in Stuttgart), and then she’ll submit her UCAS form.

Be Like Goldilocks…

So this second round of open days has been just as useful as the first. Poppy liked the course at Bristol but felt the city wasn’t for her. She loved the campus at Birmingham University but the course wasn’t right.

But St Andrews? Well that was just right.

It’s so important that both students and parents feel this way. If needs be, I would have looked at seven more universities with Poppy to be sure that wherever she goes, she will be happy both socially and intellectually.

I know that Poppy will continue to work incredibly hard on her A-levels to give herself the best possible chances of going to the university of her dreams, but some aspects will be out of her hands. It depends on which universities offer her a place and what the exact entry requirements are. But, I can say, hand on heart, that we have done everything we can to find the best place for her to spend the next three or four years of her life.

And Finally…

A university open day is a long one which involves travelling and a lot of walking. I can’t emphasise how important it is to wear comfortable clothing. I’ll do a separate blog post about the outfit I wore to St Andrews because most of it is current. In the meantime, everything below is still available or current from these outfits.

 

My University Open Day Outfits

Leopard print belt
Leopard print belt
Love Sweat Tees Lightening Bolt Sweatshirt
Love Sweat Tees Lightening Bolt Sweatshirt
Russell and Bromley Big Star Sneaker
Russell and Bromley Big Star Sneaker
Boden Harrogate Girlfriend Jeans
Boden Harrogate Girlfriend Jeans
Hobbs Twitchill Navy Jumpsuit
Hobbs Twitchill Navy Jumpsuit
Timex Fairfield Watch, Rose Gold
Timex Fairfield Watch, Rose Gold
Trinny London, Lip2Cheek, Freddie
Trinny London, Lip2Cheek, Freddie
Trinny London Face Finish
Trinny London Face Finish
Rouge Dior 999,
Rouge Dior 999,
Maybelline Go Colossal, Leather Black
Maybelline Go Colossal, Leather Black
Vince Camuto Elvan Tote Bag
Vince Camuto Elvan Tote Bag
Clinique, Dubonnet soft shine
Clinique, Dubonnet soft shine
Bella Jane Star Bracelet
Bella Jane Star Bracelet
Pilgrim Mismatched earrings
Pilgrim Mismatched earrings
Superga 2750 Cotu, silver
Superga 2750 Cotu, silver
Relaxed slim leg jeans
Relaxed slim leg jeans

 

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4 Comments

  1. September 30, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    If it wasn’t for you and Poppy looking so beautiful in these pictures I’d be really scared right now! Liz this is full on and I have three kids wahhhh!

    • elizabeth
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 8:34 am

      Awww, thank you Michelle. Yes, it is full-on. I’m glad I have a year off before doing it all again with Harry! xxxxx

  2. October 8, 2018 / 11:25 am

    St. Andrew’s is a wonderful town in an equally winderful setting. We went there for a couple of nights a few years ago and I think we must’ve arrived when they were having their open days because of the red cloaks. It was so hard to find any restaurants that weren’t chock-a-block with students on the Saturday night.

    Fife in general is a beautiful part of the world, so if Poppy loves the outdoors life then she’ll be very happy. X

    • elizabeth
      Author
      October 10, 2018 / 10:48 am

      Oh that’s lovely to hear Emerald. All three of us fell in love with it there. It’s glorious in every way xxxx

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