Have you got an offer and have been invited to visit their department? Here my advice on how to make the most of it:
- Ask what an average day is like. This will give you an idea of the workload you should expect, the amount of time spent in labs, and just give you an idea of how uni is different from school/ college (it is very different).
- Ask about how much choice you have in what you study. For example each year I pick four special electives where I get to study the specific parts of physics that I most enjoy. This semester I am doing Cosmology and Elementary Particles.
- Check out the labs. On most physics courses you will spend a fair amount of time in a lab. I personally don’t particularly like labs, and I’m glad to say because of the projects I picked this year I don’t have to do any labs this year. However, for those first two years and maybe more if you enjoy it, you will be spending a lot of time in labs so you’d better check out what it’s like.
- Ask about what research the department does (I know on my visit day to Leicester uni they took me on a tour of the Space Research Center). What research the department does is important. For example I am interested in astrophysics such as black holes and gamma-ray bursts, so it’s fantastic that I am being taught by those who are currently doing research in those topics (remember this?).
- Ask questions. This is the most important point. The ambassadors that will be taking you around will be students currently at uni. They can tell you about their experience at uni, and be able to answer more specific questions you may have.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”