With in-person open days on hold virtual open days are a great way to explore different universities from the comfort of home.
Whilst there are some differences, virtual open days still include the activities and presentations you’d expect from an in-person open day, with virtual tours, presentations, photo galleries, interactive webinars, and live chats that allow you to speak to university representatives, admissions experts, and current students to help you get all the information you need.
A key advantage of virtual open days is you don’t have to worry about the cost of travel, you can now visit universities that might have otherwise been out of reach for you, and can even explore universities abroad. Even if you can’t spend all day at the event, without geographic restrictions you can explore the entirety of campus, the university town, speak with university staff, current students and admissions teams, along with popping into presentations and lecturers, all with time to spare.
Universities run free open days throughout the year, and regularly host live Q&As on social media and their websites with current students so you can find out more about the university. Universities often allow interested students to explore the universities themselves on unofficial campus tours, if you’re interested make sure you speak to the university first to discuss if they’re permitted with current COVID-19 regulations.
Follow the following six steps to get the most out of virtual open days:
1: Do Your Homework
Before the open day make sure you’ve booked your place online, the university will send you regular updates and all the information you need to prepare for the open day, such as seminar and lecture timetables, and information about how the event will take place. Have a look at the timetable before the event to make sure you don’t miss any talks or seminars you’re interested in. There will be lots of opportunities for you to speak directly with current students, lecturers, university staff members and admissions officers so make sure you prepare a list of questions you want answered at the event.
2: Attend Talks
Throughout the day universities will run a whole host of talks, seminars and activities, on topics such as subject specific lectures, studying abroad, admissions, UCAS personal statement help, careers, student finance, life at university, and student finance presentations. You can create your own timetable and dip in and out of talks during the event.
3: (Virtually) Explore the Campus
If you’re going to be spending three + years of your life studying at university you need to make sure the campus has the facilities you’re looking for. Virtual tours will help you get a feel for the campus and the facilities, often there will be virtual tours of the university town as well.
Lots of university representatives will be running live chats at the event, answering any questions you have about the campus, security, travel, and facilities. Speak to current students to find out what they like most about the campus and what types of events the Student Union runs (e.g. concerts, comedy shows, club nights etc.).
4: Make The Most Of Live Chats
Universities will have live chat functions at their open days where you can speak to current students and student ambassadors to ask them any questions you have. They’re the best people to ask as they were once in your shoes and know first-hand what life at that specific university is like. Try to ask students questions where you can’t find the answer online such as things they wish they knew before applying to that university and what their monthly budget is.
Often universities will have representatives from specific clubs or the Student Union so you can find out more about the different societies and clubs you can join. Make notes on the answers you get at each open day so you can compare responses when picking your university options.
5: Find Out More About Your Course
Three years is a long time to spend studying a subject you hate so it’s important you’re interested in the content you’ll be learning, modules, teaching and assessment methods vary from university to university so make sure you know the course you’re applying for in depth.
Make sure you visit your department’s stand at the event to gain an insight into your chosen course. You’ll be able to ask lecturers, department staff, and current students questions about your course such as module information, studying abroad, placement years, admissions, careers support, teaching and assessment methods, and find out what careers past students have gone on to do. You can also gain an insight into the admissions process and find out what type of student admissions tutors are looking for and if there’s anything you can do to make your application stand out.
6: (Virtually) Visit University Accommodation
At the virtual open day you’ll be able to explore different accommodation options using interactive tours and videos. The accommodation team will be on hand to answer any questions you have about pricing, flatmates, and where you could be living if you go to the university. If you’d like to live in private off campus accommodation speak to the accommodation teams for more information, they’ll be able to tell you about the area, how much rent tends to cost, and can put you in touch with estate agents.
A great way to explore the area is to use Google Maps. You can plot how long it would take you to walk to your course building from the accommodation you’re interested in, discover how far away the nearest supermarket or bar is, and explore the town.
Discover virtual open days using UK University Search's open day calendar.