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Making the most of virtual university open days

Posted: November 18 2020

Sajni, Environmental Sciences

Open days are an excellent way to gather information about the university, see the campus, and meet current staff and students! 

With open days cancelled this summer, you may be feeling unsure about how to explore your university and course choices. However, university virtual open days are here to save the day!

So what is a virtual open day…?

  • a means of comparing your shortlisted universities
  • ability to view university facilities through videos, virtual accommodation, and campus tours
  • an opportunity to attend subject taster lectures and communicate with lecturers and current students
  • talk to students one-on-one about their course and life at university using live chat tools
  • some universities will share downloadable resources which you will be able to keep!
open day blog image

As we know university virtual open days will never replace the experience of walking around campus and talking to lecturers and students in person. However, they are an alternative to help you progress with your research, giving you an idea of the all-important student experience.

Virtual open days take away the personal and financial commitment of attending open days in person, as they may sometimes include early starts for travelling or the expense of overnight stays and transport costs.

I have put together a handy checklist, so you can make sure you do not miss any important opportunities!

1. Make a shortlist of open days you want to attend

Without the restriction of travel, you have the chance to see many more universities. Be aspirational and consider those you might have not been initially drawn to!

2. Make sure you understand the format

Virtual open days may include online seminars, virtual tours, online chats with existing students or lecturers. The university website should explain how the day will work. Make sure you are prepared and get the most out of the experience!

3. Have a think about what you want to know before you start

Which departments do you want to check out? Some universities may have divided up their open days by subject so choose a day that best suits you! Keep a notebook to hand with notes you have made and questions you want to ask!

4. Check out the virtual campus tours

This will give you an idea of the size of the campus and where your course would be. Some universities have interactive maps, so this will give you an idea of how things fit together!

5. Talk to as many people as you can

From lecturers to current students and those doing the same course. By talking to lecturers you will get a better understanding of how your chosen course will be delivered and assessed – via presentations, essays, coursework, or exams? A vast majority of universities are hosting live webinars or chats with academics and students.

Here are some questions I recommend that you start with, but add your own so you get the answers you want.

  1. What careers have recent graduates progressed onto?
  2. How many students are on your chosen course?
  3. How many hours of teaching are there each week?
  4. Does the university hold interviews or make offers solely based on your UCAS application?

The ultimate question is, could you see yourself living and studying at that university for 3 or 4 years of your life?