Educational institutions are rethinking their modus operandi as the world is opening up. They need to attract students globally and they need to get the word out that they are fully functional, flexible and have adapted to the new environment. In come admissions events that not only attract the right pool of candidates but also present a positive image to the world.
Hosting a Virtual Open Day is the best way of going about this. For the undergraduate admissions office, such admissions events are the backbone. Let’s see why there’s a huge need for these events today.
What Are Virtual Open Days?
Before we dive into any further details, let us dial things back a bit. If you’re wondering what a virtual open day actually is, here’s a quick rundown.
Virtual open days are just like regular open house events, the only difference being that they take place online rather than in a physical capacity.
You can invite students to these virtual open days where they can access curated content like virtual tours, webinars, discussion panels, Q&A sessions, on-demand videos, and much more. This allows you to turn your uninterested attendees into actual prospective students. They also provide networking opportunities to students with the various chat tools they offer.
These online admissions events, such as virtual open days allow you to be flexible and versatile. You can host any number of students and parents without being restricted to a physical space. You can even model the virtual event so that it replicates the real-life setting of your university. This creates a wholesome welcoming environment for prospective students.
Why Should Undergraduate Admissions Offices Consider Virtual Open Days?
As a member of an institution’s admission office, or as an event planner for the office, why should you care for virtual open days? We will tell you why.
1. A Wider Reach
By now, most of us are aware of the benefits that a virtual event can bring to an organization. Global reach is one of the biggest benefits of hosting virtual open days. An online event is by far the best way to attract a diverse audience from across the globe. In a time where we want to be all-inclusive, hosting virtual events is a great way to do so. It removes barriers and limitations that some attendees might face.
A large number of people want to attend certain events but can not do so due to certain reasons, e.g. travel restrictions, inability to afford costs of travel/accommodation, time constraints, etc.
Fortunately, these limitations are alleviated with the help of virtual events. As long as the attendee has access to an internet connection, they can be a part of the event and feel included.
Going digital also makes the event more accessible to people with disabilities. That is a clear win-win situation for everyone involved.
2. Accurate Analytics, Metrics, and Reporting
One of the most effective services a virtual event platform offers is analytics and reporting. In a physical environment, it can be hard to keep track of all the data. You can figure out how many people attended, but it’s difficult to see how long they remain at any session, what activities they participate in, etc.
You can try to do all of that, but it is going to require a lot of effort, resources and money.
In a virtual event, you get real-time metrics, attendance and behavior data, and a properly compiled post-event report. You can track the number of booth visitors, the number of document downloads and even the exact number of people who attended the keynote session. All this and much more.
3. A Cost-Effective Approach
Hosting an open day or open house event on your campus can be quite expensive. Usual costs include setup, resources, incidentals, staff, and maybe even catering. While virtual open days can still be expensive, they save you on all the logistical and administrative costs. An online event also gets rid of the fluff, so you can just focus on and present the things that matter.
4. Higher Engagement
While you may have a lot of people attending a physical open day, how many of them are engaging and asking questions? This is something that just comes with the territory. A handful of people feel shy when asking questions, or the situation could become awkward for them as well.
You also need to consider the fact that it is not feasible to answer the majority of questions that are directed at the staff.
These issues are somewhat alleviated thanks to virtual open days. People don’t feel as uncomfortable when asking questions from behind a screen. You also get the chance to address more queries than you would at a physical event.
5. Host a Virtual Tour
While prospective students might not get to see the campus in person, you can always add detailed tour videos that not just show them every nook and corner of the campus but also the nearby areas. You can even ask your students to record a video of them going around campus so students attending remotely can see it from the viewpoint of a peer. This always helps them get comfortable with the setting.
6. Showcase Programs
You need to help prospective students make the right decision. This includes deciding which program to go for. Include course materials, downloadable resources, brochures and other informative content that tells students what each degree, each program has to offer. Help them make an informed decision, and guide them through the process which can seem intimidating to them.
How Does It Benefit Students?
We just talked about all the benefits that the admissions office can grab a hold of above. However, these admissions events offer great value to prospective students.
1. Explore Campus Life From Home
Virtual open days have a lot to offer. You don’t need to limit your event to just simple course talks. Students can observe university life via campus, find out more about finances, become aware of the clubs, and even get familiar with the Student’s Union. All of this from the comfort of their homes. There’s no need to schedule an exhaustive travel plan to attend a physical open day event.
The right virtual event platform can easily make this happen through their customizable 3D spaces, corridors, booths, etc., and bring the campus life to the potential students at home. All they need is a laptop or smartphone with internet access to participate.
2. Less Work For Students
As we mentioned above, students can take part in virtual open days from the comfort of their own homes. As most students apply for several different universities, it is likely that they are going to be attending a lot of open day events, as well. That involves a lot of time and money. Make it easy for them and meet them where they are. If they can’t come to you, you can go to them.
Students can also take a break or leave the session entirely if they are busy or occupied. Then they can always come back when they are ready. This means that your viewers can watch the sessions long after the event is over. They never need to worry about missing important points from any speaker. Students also get access to event collateral such as guides, documents, registration forms, etc. This is an added cherry on top.
3. Communicate With Lecturers And Course Leads
Getting together with the course leads, department heads and instructors also offers a world of insights. Most virtual open days will allow prospective students to communicate with each other, the lecturers, tutors, and course lead. This can be done either via live chat or through Q&A sessions. Students will be able to find out what the syllabus looks like and be able to ask specific questions.
This way, students will also get a feel of what the teaching culture is like at the institution. Allowing them to figure out whether they want to take up the course, will it help them in their career, etc.
It also helps students to learn about the modules of the different subjects they will be learning. This will help in understanding the process and what style to adopt while learning.
4. Make A Conscious Decision
Holding open day events is important. It allows your students to get a feel of what life is like on campus, and if the experience is right for them or they should look elsewhere. Doing research on universities and attending open day events is important for students so they don’t feel a culture shock when they are thrust into that new environment.
Attending a virtual open day event will also allow students to learn about the experience the university has to offer. They might learn a few things that they never even considered before. Not many people would say no to that, especially when it is presented in such a convenient and time-efficient manner.
Virtual Open Day Tips And Tricks
If you’re planning to host a successful virtual open day, here are some tips and tricks for you.
- Decide on the type of event it is going to be. Will a single stream webinar be enough, or is it going to be an event with multiple sessions and/or tracks?
- Zero in on a virtual event platform that can provide you with all of the features you are looking for.
- Design the program around them so they feel engaged. Make sure you have presenters and speakers that are engaging enough to hold the audience’s attention for a certain amount of time.
- Promote the event properly on all of your social channels as well.
- In the end, remember to follow up with your audience as well and get some constructive feedback.
For a more thorough guide go through our virtual open day planning kit.
- You can scale your virtual open day or any other admissions events, invite prospective students from across the globe without worrying about additional costs.
- Take students on a campus tour and a tour of the neighborhood to get them comfortable with the area they will be living in.
- Showcase your programs, provide them with downloadable resources and content in addition to on-demand sessions so they can come back whenever it is convenient.
- Track attendee journeys and get actionable insights on where your prospective students and parents found most value.
A Word From Our Customers
Don’t just take our word for it, have a look at a few client success stories. Check out how Newcastle University’s open day attendance increased by 47% after going with vFairs. We are helping universities cut costs, boost enrollment numbers, and deliver a convenient and intuitive completely online experience.
Helen Clubbs, Marketing Manager at Newcastle University talks about her experience at vFairs: “The virtual event allowed greater flexibility. They hosted one postgraduate virtual open day in the morning for the Asian market and one in the afternoon for the North American market. They were able to reach two different time zones because of the flexibility this platform grants”.
Get started with planning your admissions events and use vFairs Virtual Open Day Planning Kit for a smooth and stress-free ride!
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