Showcase through Virtual Open Days
Virtual Open Days became standard practice during the lockdown in 2020 and they are likely to remain equally significant moving forward in 2021. It might sound obvious, but an Open Day is key to student recruitment success. When choosing academic institutions 40% of all students believe Open Days influence their decision making.
In an ideal world, everyone interested in studying at University would visit the main campus to see where they’ll be spending the next few years. It allows them to ask questions, talk to other students and academic staff, to judge whether they will be happy studying in that environment.
However, recent events have highlighted that circumstances arise, preventing those prospective students (as well as their parents and guardians) from attending in-person. For these, it’s crucial to offer an online Open Day experience to cater to these needs.
Hosting a Virtual Open Day
Universities have been projecting aspects of their Open Day experiences online for years, with 360º images, digital registration, video content and other forms of digital media. This enables those who are unable to attend, a way to ask questions about studying and student life on and off-campus.
Now, with an increasing number of universities fighting for the next generation of students, a fully immersive Virtual Open Day has the potential to sway thousands of prospective students in favour of your courses, accommodation and most importantly, your University.
A successful Virtual Open Day can consist of an array of finely tuned interactive features, including live chat, Q&A, polls, surveys, webcasts webinars, virtual tours and more, all of which help prospective students confirm their decision on where to study.
Creating an All-Access Environment Online
In some cases, simply attending an Open Day is a big commitment for prospective students, a significant barrier to the recruitment process. Virtual Open Days are an innovative digital solution to overcome this barrier.
From the student perspective, Virtual Open Days help build deeper relationships with the University ahead of time and require little advanced planning and preparation compared to physical ones. Online Open Days are key to building confidence which transitions 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 provides 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. Students at a physical Open Day may be too shy or overwhelmed to speak up and thus leave without receiving the information they hoped to gain. Using Live Chat or WhatsApp can satisfy what students need.
Engagement activities like polls, Q&A sessions, live chat facilities and direct access to specific support services ensure that prospective students receive all the information necessary to make an informed decision. Integrating these activities with other relevant performance channels can strengthen its influence.
Polls and surveys can also be used to help fine-tune your Open Day discussions, allowing speakers to focus on the topics which 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 even step foot on campus.
Reporting & Analytics
Reporting on an online event is significantly easier than a physical one. From the activities already discussed, there are endless ways in which Universities can utilise data to improve their interactive Virtual Open Day offerings moving 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 further action.
Here to Stay
You’d be forgiven for thinking 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 suggests they’re here for the long run – and we’re only just getting started.
UNICOM specialise in the Higher Education Student Recruitment market, if you want to host virtual Open Days but not sure where to start, get in touch with us for help.