Virtual open days 101

Lois King on 7 January 2021

Open days just aren't going to be the same in 2021, with the latest lockdown put in place. But, that shouldn't put you off making the most of it.

With the new lockdown, it looks like everything in 2021 is going virtual, including Open Days. But how can you make the most of these events when you aren’t able to see the institutions in person? How are virtual Open Days any different to browsing a university website, and is it even worth attending?

“It was quite similar to a normal Open Day in that lectures and discussion panels don't really change by going online.”

The main difference with a virtual Open Day is that it’s hard to get a feel for the university’s campus or city online. However, you can still talk to current students about their experiences: if you’d prefer more of a university bubble experience, then a campus setting could be right for you, but if you want to be out and about in the hustle and bustle of a city, then perhaps look for a more vibrant location. Remember, in 2021 most of your studies will be online, which means that in the near future location may not be so much of a concern as your interest in your chosen course and your future career prospects. 

“It was an easy process to book/sign up to sessions, it was organised well so that prospective students could ask questions on the live chat/video.”

Part of being a student is all about knowing how to look after your money, and virtual Open Days are just the ticket. Of course, without the actual ticket, as you won’t need to pay for the train or bus fare. You can chill out in the comfort of your own home whilst joining interactive sessions through live chat or video. 

And Open Days can be daunting. If you’ve got a burning question that you need answering, you might’ve been too shy to ask in person at a traditional event. However, for most of us, chatting virtually is much easier and could mean you will get more answers to your questions, better informing your university choices. 

“The sound quality was good. The only person I could hear was the instructor so this helped me to get the best out of the sessions.”

If you haven’t attended an Open Day before, then you won’t understand the scale of the day. Normally there would be hundreds of people crammed into a room, listening to a speaker. If you arrive late, you’ll be standing at the back and may not be able to hear, let alone interact, much. By going virtual, you remove all of the hassle of the day, allowing you to target relevant sessions and take away a lot more useful information. 

What can you expect to see from virtual Open Days in 2021?

Our student Opinion Panel told us that they want more virtual tours, tips from other students, breakdowns of living costs and information on admissions interviews. With a whole year of virtual Open Days under their belts, heading into 2021 institutions should be able to put this feedback into practice, giving you the best opportunity to find out about what they offer.

How to prepare for a virtual Open Day

  1. Take a look at the institution’s website beforehand so you’ve got some background information before you sign up.
  2. Write a list of questions, and listen out for others’ questions to avoid repetition (and check beforehand to see if your question is covered by the uni’s FAQs). Win, win as you’ll save time and don’t have to ask them yourself.
  3. Work out what the most important aspects of university life are to you and make sure you attend the sessions you’re most interested in and those which are most relevant to you and your course. 
  4. Finally, as you can’t be there yourself, check out what other students have to say about the societies, location and campus here

If you’d like to join our student Opinion Panel to give us your views on the university application process, virtual Open Days and more, sign up today - you’ll get a £10 Amazon voucher for your time. 

Lois King
Lois King on 7 January 2021