Are you considering hosting a Virtual Open Day to attract prospective students to your school? Chances are that you may have already been forced to consider this option sometime in 2020.  

Looking at course catalogues, program brochures, campuses, housing, and facilities means there is alot to take into account before deciding where to go to college. It’s no doubt a daunting decision to make for a high school student. Approximately 40% of all students believe that attending an open day influences their decision on whether to apply or not. 

Open days are an invaluable experience for both students and parents. It’s important to get a sense of where the student will be living, studying, and spending a significant part of the next few years. These open days are part of a university’s promotional efforts as they invite prospective students and parents to explore their campus. 

The pandemic, however, brought all physical events to a stand still. With universities unable to host live open days the focus quickly shifted to Virtual Open Days in order to continue with their promotional efforts online. 

What are virtual open days?

Virtual open days allow students to take a comprehensive tour of a campus from anywhere via any device including their mobile, tablet, or laptop. Hosting a virtual open day means that prospective students may even be out of the country, but still have the liberty to attend. 

Virtual Open Days provide a customized and convenient experience for students, parents, and hosts alike. They reduce obstacles that schools face while hosting an on-site open day, such as the inability to interact with a global audience, spending budget on printing resources and refreshments, etc. 

woman with tablet in hand

Although online events are nothing new, they are increasingly becoming an integral part of an organization’s growth strategy. Traditional in-person events are being replaced by virtual events and thus opening numerous opportunities for hosts and attendees. 

As we near the end of 2020, COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down and, in fact, cases are on the rise around the world. Large crowd sizes are restricted as they still pose a threat. Even where restrictions on events and crowd sizes have eased, there is lower attendance. People are wary of attending public events, due to rising cases once again. 

Virtual Open Days are undoubtedly the safer option as we head into 2021. Let’s see why. 

Connect With Course Leaders Via Live Webinars 

Virtual venues provide students the opportunity to attend live webinars, and feel as though they are sitting in an actual auditorium. They can even attend live on-demand sessions and listen to recordings of past webinars in case they weren’t able to attend at the scheduled time. Since virtual open days can accommodate large crowds in a single ‘room’, more students and parents can listen to various course leaders and program heads’ sessions without the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

Laptop and coffee mug on table

Reaching An International Audience 

Due to COVID-19, travel is restricted. Travelling outside of the country is a laborious task. Even travelling within the country is considered a risk for the people involved, given that there may be possible threat of exposure. Virtual events eliminate the need to travel to a physical location. Your home could be anywhere in the world, and you can attend the virtual open day — thus removing any restrictions posed by geographical locations. 

hands typing on laptop

Engaging With Faculty and Students 

Virtual open days do not mean that the university or school has to give up on engagement between faculty, prospective students, and current students. Even when in-person interaction is next to impossible, live audio, video, and text chat options provide prospective students ample opportunity to pose questions and queries to faculty and staff. It also provides them opportunities to interact with current students and learn about their experiences.

girl typing on laptop

Accessing Resources In Their Own Time 

Virtually hosting an open day also allows students to download any course outlines, brochures, degree programs, guides, and even videos. They can go through these documents after the event, and don’t have to experience the added hassle of carrying extensive amounts of materials in hand. They can simply download it into a virtual swag bag and access it at a later date. Research has shown that the coronavirus can stay on surfaces for days, including on books and paper. In such circumstances, virtually disseminating guides and brochures is the safer choice. 

girl with headphones infront of desktop

Here’s one example of a university who realized success after adopting the virtual open day format. Robert Gorden University in Aberdeen, Scotland successfully hosted their open day with vFairs on November 14th, 2020 with the pandemic still at large. On the virtual venue, participants could:  

  • Attend live talks about courses 
  • Connect with prospective course leaders 
  • Visit the Virtual Student Services Fair and listen to Student Services Live Talks 
  • Chat with current students to get a real insight into student life at RGU
  • Discover state-of-the-art learning facilities on our Virtual Campus Tour on Instagram

Thus, virtual open days allow for a more safe and secure environment for schools to engage with prospective students, share program details and support materials, and allow participants to interact with current students and faculty for a more holistic understanding of what they have to offer. 

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