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Attending a university open day is all about getting a first-hand feel for the place. The campus, the facilities, the faculty members, and the overall atmosphere of the university as a whole. Well, that’s in an ideal world…
But we’re not living in an ideal world right now. We’re in the middle of a pretty serious pandemic (you might have heard about it). Universities are now hosting virtual open days to showcase all they have to offer. We wrote about this in some more depth last year, check out that article here.
Virtual open days aren’t a bad thing though, and you can still really make the most of these virtual open days if you know how. We’ll get to that in just a moment, but first let's talk about what to expect from virtual open days.
Open days will differ from university to university, but here are three things which should happen in every one:
Usually a pre-recorded, high quality video or presentation of the university campus to help create a “real feel” of things. In fact, some of these are 3D tours where you can “walk” around campus yourself!
This should give you a great visual sense of the university, but it will usually contain lots of key information about life on campus. Courses on offer, student successes, university accolades, and any other elements that will promote the university may be mentioned here.
On a physical open day, you’re free to ask questions of faculty and staff, as well as other students at the university. Well, the same holds true on a virtual open day.
You’ll normally be given a chance to listen to university personalities talk about their work, studies and life on campus. There should also be degree-specific interactive sessions, where you can go into more detail on your potential course of study.
And of course, you’ll also be able to ask them questions. Depending on the university, these might have to be submitted in advance, or perhaps messaged live into a comment section, or indeed asked “in person” if you’re on a virtual communication platform like Zoom or Skype.
As university open days contain lots of information, most universities prepare downloadable documents and other material which you can access either during the open day, or after it’s done.
This way you can always refer to it for information if you get a little lost, confused, or if you forget some bits of information.
In the vast majority of cases, the university will advertise virtual open days well in advance. These ads will have instructions on how to register, which is a simple process of filling in some details on their website and following a link on the day of the tour.
Even if you miss the actual open day (which we wouldn’t recommend) any pre-recorded content is often kept on the website so that you can check it out another day.
Feel free to just sit back and enjoy the show, but if you want to really make the most of virtual open day, here are a few things you can do to boost your experience.
Having some idea of what you’re in for on open day will help protect against “information overload”. Try to find out what the university itself looks like, how many students are there, what courses they are best at etc.
If you have a specific degree in mind, check out the course programme and see if it’s a fit for you. Make a note of any questions or queries that come to mind so that you can find out more on the day.
We touched on this above, but try to think bigger than just the university itself. There should be webinars and Q&As with students and teachers of all degree subjects, so do make sure and attend those sessions.
There’s no easier way of finding information than by asking questions.
While you’re on your virtual tour, and especially during the interactive sessions, make a mental note of anything that piques your interest and ask questions. Even if you don’t get the chance to ask during the session, you can always follow up with an email or phone call after.
We mentioned above that there will usually be downloadable or shareable materials made available for you. These will have most of the information covered on the day, and possibly even more. Take them (they’re free!), read them in your spare time, and allow them to better inform you if that university or that course is right for you. Information is your best friend here. As the wise folk say, “Knowledge is power.”
Those virtual 3D tours, videos, presentations and even the live, interactive sessions will normally be available to watch and make use of at a later date. There’s no pressure on you to rewatch them right away, but do know that they’re there for you whenever you need them.
As before, if anything at all comes to your attention while watching, don’t hesitate to follow up with the university by email to get more info.
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