According to YouthSight, 40% of all students believe that open days influence their decision on whether to apply or not.
Virtual Open Days have become the norm since the start of lockdown. The importance of Virtual Open Days is crucial for enrolment for 2020/21. It might sound obvious, but an open day is key to student recruitment success. According to YouthSight, 40% of all students believe that the open day influences their decision on whether to apply or not.
In an ideal world, everyone and anyone interested in studying at a university will want to pay a visit to the campus to take a look around where they’ll be spending their next few years in. It also allows them to ask questions, talk to other students and academic staff generally ask themselves “Would I be happy studying here?”
However, if recent events have taught us anything, it’s those prospective students (as well as their parents and guardians) cannot always attend physical open days – that is why it is crucial to offer your open day experience online.
Hosting a virtual open day.
Universities have been projecting aspects of their open day experiences online for years, with 360º images, video content and other forms of digital media. This enables those who are unable to attend a way to ask questions they may have about studying at university and student life on and off-campus.
Now, though, with an increasing number of universities fighting it out for the next generation of students, a fully immersive virtual open day has the potential to sway thousands of potential students in favour of your courses, your accommodation offering and, most importantly, your university.
A successful virtual open day can consist of a wide array of finely tuned interactive features, including live chat, Q&A, polls, surveys, webcasts webinars, virtual tours and more, all of which can help prospective students to firm up their decision on where they want to study.
Creating an all access environment online.
In some cases, simply attending an open day is a big commitment for a prospective student to make; a barrier to student recruitment which, with the availability of virtual open days, is no longer necessary.
Virtual Open Days, from a potential student’s perspective, require little advanced planning and help to form an initial, in-depth relationship between them and the university. Online open days are key to building that confidence which turns your prospective students from interested to engaged.
As well as building this confidence with students, virtual open days are easily accessible to key influencers like parents and guardians. A virtual open day can provide them with the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice and learn more about what your university has to offer if they are unable to travel, take time away from work or fund their visit to a physical open day.
Many students feel more comfortable asking questions in an online environment. Due to this, students at a physical open day, in some cases, leave without having received the information that they had initially hoped to gain.
Engagement activities like polls, Q&A sessions, online live chat and direct access to specific support services ensure that prospective students receive every last piece of information necessary to make their final decision.
Polls and surveys can also be used to help fine-tune your open day discussions, allowing your speakers to focus more on the topics that are most important to the students watching live over the internet.
A lack of face-to-face contact does not have to impact the early stages of a relationship between student and university – in fact, with a virtual open day, that relationship can be developed before they so much as step foot on campus.
Reporting & analytics.
Reporting on an online event is significantly easier than it is on a physical one. From the activities that have already been discussed, there are endless ways in which universities can utilise data to improve their interactive online open day offerings going forward.
Open day videos, for example, can be tracked to identify key periods of engagement, finding out when and where the video is being watched, how the video was found and who took the time to watch it all.
Data from activities like Q&A sessions can be analysed qualitatively to help plan for future similar events, while a real-time attendee list can be used to follow up with prospective students who enrolled for the open day but failed to take any further action.
Here to stay.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the idea of hosting an online open day is no more than a short-term fix for student recruitment amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the potential of virtual open days would suggest that they are here for the long run – and we’re only just getting started.
- Virtual open days are proven to have significantly higher attendance rates
- Many students have admitted that would prefer to have had some form of online engagement with the university before visiting
- Students have also suggested that they feel more comfortable asking important questions online than they are in person
- Parents and guardians have easier access to online open days, helping to build confidence
If you want to host virtual open days and not sure where to start, drop us a line email@example.com