University open days for the socially anxious

For the socially anxious, shy or introverted among us, the thought of attending a university open day conjures one firm response:

Danny Devito as Frank Reynolds shaking his head and saying 'nope'


Usually, we’re advised to attend open days to:

  • speak to teaching staff and current students
  • join in with activities and tours

However, the very thought of quizzing academics, making small talk with students, and joining activities can strike fear into many of us. Fortunately, it’s possible to check out your potential uni choices with minimal social stress.

Book your place on our Open Day – 4 & 5 October 2019

Here are five tips on how you can make the most of a university open day:

1. Go at the quietest time

Like any day-long event, university open days have peaks and lulls.

Here at Bradford, the afternoon session of our events tend to be quieter, and the most suitable for those who find hectic events overwhelming.

On full-day events, many of the talks and tours take place more than once per day, so it’s likely you can plan your schedule around the afternoon session.

Our next Open Days are on Friday 4 & Saturday 5 October, and the Friday event may not be as hectic as our weekend events.

2. Take somebody with you

If you’re not into starting conversations, or you find lengthy interactions tiring, why not bring somebody along to carry the load?

A parent, family member or close friend who enjoys a chat, asks the right questions and has a good memory is the ideal choice.

A female student and her mum at an Open DayNot only will your companion be able to ask questions and start conversations, they will also ask questions you might not have thought of, and remember some details you may forget.

2a. Don’t take somebody with you

On the other hand, you might feel drained at the very thought of spending all day with a companion. If this is the case, come alone, explore, visit talks and presentations, and observe from a distance. It’s possible to see everything you need while remaining almost anonymous.

3. Plan your own tour

Most university open days feature guided tours of the campus, facilities, and accommodation. These tours are a great way to meet future classmates, but can also involve small-talk and group activities.

You might be more comfortable taking your own campus tour. If you’re coming to Bradford, use our Virtual Experience to plan which areas you would like to visit. You’ll be free to potter at your own pace, and you’ll encounter members of staff along the way if you need to ask questions.

A female student reading the Open Day programme schedule4. Check out the clubs and societies

Although joining a society may initially seem like your worst nightmare, they are a very popular way for new students to meet like-minded people.

No matter how obscure your interests might seem, there’s likely to be a relevant club for you. If not, you can always start your own!

Many of the societies will have a presence at open days. If you find one that appeals, register your interest or just grab a flyer for future reference.

5. Arrange a post-open day private visit or chat

If you’ve been to an Open Day and had a look around, but didn’t feel comfortable speaking to lots of different people amongst the hubbub, you can arrange a private follow-up visit at a time that suits you.

You’ll be able to take a tour of the facilities and areas that interest you and ask the questions you may not have been able to ask before.

A student and an ambassador taking a campus tourTo arrange a visit, please email our Recruitment Events team. We recommend giving at least two weeks notice, to ensure we can arrange for a relevant member of academic staff to be available for your visit.

If you would rather chat online, you can use live chat on our website or message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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