I lived in Robbins Hall of Residence during my first year and if I could relive the entire experience, I would do it over and over again. The application process itself wasn’t difficult. I am an international student so; unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of having a look at the halls prior to reserving a spot for myself. I did what everyone else would have done in my place; looked up where the halls were in Plymouth, its proximity to the University as well as the city centre (and some other areas of interest like food joints and pubs and more food joints), how much they cost and the facilities. For me, Robbins was the best choice as I preferred living in an en suite residence, it was super close to the University as well as Drake’s Circus and because (honestly) the pictures of the rooms on the website looked inviting.
This is why I feel Open Days are so important for new potential students, thinking of attending University. The events held gives you a feel for what to expect in terms of the course you have applied for and in terms of the other choices you make based on your circumstances. Had I had the choice of visiting any one of the Open Days, I would have not thought twice about it. In the light of accommodation; by visiting potential halls of interest, you understand certain elements that pictures wouldn’t do justice for; for example, the size of the room in your perspective, the other facilities and security available whilst being in the halls (handy for the parents too!), general rules, getting the know the resident assistants better and getting their views on the halls and just a general sense of comfort.
At the end of the day you are going to live there for an entire academic year and you want to know that you have invested your money wisely and in a way that will make you happy with the choice of accommodation. Having worked as a Student Ambassador for Open Days as well as Moving in days, I can say that several students (and their families) feel a lot more confident and certain about their choice after having a tour of the halls.
Post the decision of accommodation, I just had to request a room and state my priorities. As I was fairly early in booking a room and paid almost immediately, I received my confirmation email and my room number within a few weeks. At this stage, you could go on some Facebook groups and try finding your ‘new’ flatmates, and get to know them better before you actually move in. I however thought the element of surprise would be nice.