Check in at Open Day 2023

A parent's guide to open days

Support your child as they explore university and beyond

Choosing to go to university is an exciting time for young people. It’s the start of a new chapter, the first step towards their chosen career, and — if they’re moving away from home — might be one of the biggest transitions in their life so far.

To help your child make the best choice on which universities to apply to, courses to study, or careers to pursue, most run open days. 
This guide will help you understand how to get the most out of an open day and how best to support a young person as they explore university and beyond.

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What is a university open day?

Open days help students explore which university and course is right for them. They’re the perfect opportunity to look at learning spaces, labs, libraries, and facilities. Staff will be on hand to run regular talks and tours on showcase courses, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and hear from current students.

They’re also an important part of getting a feel for student life. You and your child will be able to tour the university campus, accommodation, and social spaces — and there’s no better way of getting to know what it would be like to live there.

Importantly, they’re also a chance to understand the support networks and services that the university offers, so you’ll know your child will be well looked after during their time there.

Student ambassador helping family with questions  - Open Day 2023

Do parents and supporters need to attend an open day?

Your child can attend an open day on their own, or with friends. But there’s so much you’ll get out of attending. From finding out more about the place your child will be living and studying, to feeling confident there’s the right help and support available.

Exploring a new place can be exciting, but sometimes overwhelming. You’ll be on hand to guide your child in asking the right questions, help find their way to the next tour or session, and be there to support them.

Choosing university is an important next step for your child, and going with them to an open day helps you be a part of their journey.

Preparing for an open day

Taking the time to prepare for the open day gives you the best chance of covering everything and getting the most out of the day.

Before the open day

If you’re visiting Portsmouth for one of our open days, we’ll send you an open day guide in advance, so you can plan your day.

If you’re not a local, why not make a weekend of it? There’s no better way to get a sense of the city than to stay. Portsmouth is packed with things to do after the open day. Explore Southsea seafront, take in the sights from the Spinnaker Tower, or debrief over dinner at Gunwharf Quays.


Take advantage of public transport schemes, such as park and rides or university buses, to avoid the stress of finding a car parking space when you arrive.

You’ll find loads of information about how to get to the University of Portsmouth, public transport, and car parking, in your open day guide.

Open days are often divided into the following:

  • Arrival and registration
  • A welcome talk
  • Talks and sessions on chosen courses
  • Tours of accommodation and campus

Take the time to sit down with your child and discuss their interests. Make a plan of the key sessions and facilities related to courses they might want to study and encourage them to explore the facilities, social spaces, and accommodation. Then, put together a list of questions you’d both like answered by the end of the day.

You can usually find a lot of information in advance on the university website. But it’s worth having a list to make sure you’ve covered everything.

Some good topics to cover include:

What makes this university perfect for studying your child’s chosen course? What equipment, labs, facilities or tools are available? What careers can graduates expect to pursue? What sort of modules and topics are covered?

What are the various halls of residence like? How far from the university buildings are they? If you’re checking out Portsmouth at an open day, take a look at our halls in advance, to narrow down your search.

University is a great place to take hobbies and interests to the next level, or try out new ones. If your child is into sport and fitness, check out the sports clubs and facilities.

What’s the city like to live in? What is student life like? How far away is accommodation from university buildings and social spaces? How expensive is it to live there? 

What sort of pastoral or counselling is available? What assistance can your child get if they’re struggling? How does the university support its students?

How does student finance work? What sort of financial support can your child expect to receive? It's worth getting a good idea of how student finance works in advance, so you can ask the right questions about your situation.


Factor in time to get between university buildings and around campus. In your plan, roughly schedule your time. And on the day, be sure to ask staff how long it takes to walk from place to place to give yourself plenty of time. 

Open days can be tiring. Include breaks to grab a drink or a bite. That’s also a great way to check out local places to eat.

After the open day

While it’s fresh in your mind, talk with your child about the open day. Go through the questions you’d prepared in advance and talk about the pros and cons.

If you still have questions or more you want to know, reach out to the university admissions office.

If your child has a good feeling about a particular university, encourage them to take the next step in applying.

Student ambassador giving a campus walking tour - Open Day 2023

Ready to go?

We’d love to welcome you and your child to an upcoming open day at Portsmouth.

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