If so, and you’re looking at TV/Film/Media courses, here are the 12 questions you should be asking on Open Day:
1. What is the kit like (shooting, editing, sound, studios etc) and can you easily get your hands on it?
2. What opportunities for work experience are there? Do they lay it on, have contacts in the industry and is it “meaningful” (ie relevant and practical).
3. Do the lecturers have recent experience in the industry? (You need to know they know what they’re talking about).
4. Do they get in guest speakers from the industry to give talks?
5. What is the careers advice like? Do they give you individual guidance and who is giving it (again, do they have industry experience or access to good sources?).
6. Where do recent graduates go? And alumni after 3-5 years, how many are in the industry and at what level? (Remember alumni are ready made contacts of the course team and are a valuable asset when looking for work experience and a first job)
7. Does the course have accreditation e.g Screen Skills?
8. What is the largest group taught in for practical modules? Some will need to have lots of people (eg studio sessions) but some work better the fewer students there are (eg editing).
9. How is group work managed and assessed? Will you be doing work which will benefit others who might put in no effort? Group work to learn how to work in a team is important but being assessed on other people’s (lack of) contribution can be a real irritant to conscientious students.
10. What is the balance of theory and practice and what sort of theory is taught? Theory has its place of course but the amount and quality of the practical experience you get is the real value .
11. Does the curriculum meet your specific needs, does it allow you to specialise at the end of the course in a genre or role? Or does everyone have to produce/direct? Is it broad enough to introduce you to things you’ve never thought of?
11. What software is used for editing, sound, production management (if they teach those areas)? Does the course offer extras like ProTools or Avid accreditation for example.
12. What extra course costs are there? Cost for final projects (locations, actor expenses, copyright for music?). Does the uni cover these or is there a cap on how much you can spend to stop those who can afford it spending loads and having a better project just because they have more money?
Make sure you get satisfactory answers to all these (feel free to print this off as a list and take it with you). And remember, you are the customer – they have to impress you NOT the other way round!