A university open day is, as the name suggests, an “open” invitation for prospective students to acquaint themselves with the university grounds, or “campus” as it is better known. This is an opportunity for the students to familiarise themselves with the facilities that are on offer, including the lecture halls, sleeping accommodation, library and the overall grounds. As well as being introduced to some of the staff members who could be supporting them throughout their higher education.
An open day is, essentially, a day of window-shopping as far as the students are concerned. They arrive with the aim of getting a feel for the university, the lecturers and their fellow students before investing the next few years of their lives into their new academic home. That’s why holding a memorable university open day is essential when you’re looking to entice young academics to enrol. We’ve put together a few key pointers on how to make your university open day stand out against the competition.
🎯 Get Organised
As always, when planning any large-scale event, organisation is going to be the key to your success. Make life as easy as possible for yourself, and everyone involved, from the outset to make sure that the open day goes off without a hitch. There are certain tools you can use to your advantage and one that you will already have an abundance of – keen students.
By letting your existing students get involved in the organising of the event, you can gain inside knowledge from students who are already committed to their education with you. They have “been there and worn the T-shirt” so to speak and, who better to know your target audience than those who have been in the same position not years before. Take on board their ideas and you can even offer them bonus points for sharing their insight as well as providing volunteer opportunities for on the day. Having current students mingling amongst your prospective students will also help them gauge what their peer group will look like and help the “window shoppers” feel more at ease.
Project management technology
Getting to grips with a project management tool will mean that everyone stays organised, particularly when there are so many ‘moving parts’ coming together to make your day a success. No matter the size of your team, keeping everyone aligned and delegating tasks via your favourite project management tool means that everyone (including your willing team of trusty students) has a clear understanding of the overall vision of the event, as well their own individual tasks that come as part of their role.
👩🏫 Education Sells
The main focal point of your university open day should be to highlight the great level of education that you can offer these students. Whilst the university grounds, location and facilities are all going to be under scrutiny on the open day, the decision will ultimately come down to the quality of education on offer to the ambitious academics, so make sure you highlight all your accomplishments.
There’s nothing more motivating than seeing somebody else’s success to push you to reach your own goals. Your open day is your key opportunity to highlight any, and all the exceptional achievements your post-graduates have conquered upon leaving your university. Invite some of your highest achievers to share their own interesting success stories at your event to inspire the new students into choosing your university.
Another way to highlight your educative success stories is to create a gallery highlighting both student and employee’s work – that might include post-graduate career paths, projects or research that they’ve been involved in.
Meet their mentors
Connecting potential students with both graduates and professors gives these budding academics the chance to ask riveting questions about what they can expect from their education and years at your university. Enabling them to have meaningful conversations with the experts before making a final decision.
🥳 Keeping Things Fun and Fresh
Whilst the quality of education is always going to be at the forefront of the prospective student’s mind, and rightfully so. So too is the level of fun and excitement that the university can offer them whilst they’re there. Speak to any student graduate and they will rejoice in sharing the memories of their “uni or college days” because, as important as the education is, this is also a whole chapter in their lives that they want to cherish. So, keep things fun for them and let them know that choosing your university will offer them a great balance of work and play. Some creative ways you can incorporate fun into your open day are:
Your university mascot proudly represents the team spirit that you want your students to share. It’s a symbol of their “oneness” and highlights to the students that they are all on this educative journey together. So, make sure your mascot has a strong presence throughout your open day. This could include creating university mascot merchandise and featuring your mascot throughout your program sessions, and, even on themed refreshments - such as cupcakes and candies.
The generation you’re welcoming to your university loves a photo booth. Having a booth at your event will mean that the students can share some memories with their new peers, but also it means that they leave the open day with a token that will remind them of your university. Thus, helping to cement their decision when making their final choice.
Keep things competitive
A little bit of competition can seriously help break the ice between the prospective students at your open day. So, find a way to incorporate some healthy competition into the day – offering prizes such as university merchandise or maybe even tickets to a local event.
Open day app
Another great tool is to use an open day app such as Eventee. With the majority of prospective students ranging from the ages of 18 – 21, this particular target audience tend to be very adept with using technology. Showing that your university is ahead of the curve, by incorporating an engaging app into their open day will not only make your life easier but it will also create a more interactive experience for the attendees. You can use Eventee’s app to provide each user with access to all the key information, like the open day program, real-time attendee and notification updates, and, also to interact with their fellow.
Another benefit, is that an open day app can see your event go ‘paperless’, a great benefit for universities that are looking to outwardly show their commitment to green causes to prospective students. You can learn more about going paperless by checking out this case study.
📍 Location, Location, Location
You’re going to want to offer scheduled campus tours throughout your open day. The best way to do this is as an organised group tour so that, not only does it make life easier for you as the organiser, but it also means that the students can collectively tour the university campus alongside their prospective students. Make sure that the tour covers as much ground as possible, because these students are committing themselves to have your university as not only their place of learning, but for a lot of them, their home.
University life doesn’t end at the gate. When considering their higher education, the students will want to know what activities are available in the surrounding areas. A lot of students travel far from home when they move into their university years, so, choose an existing student, mentor, or even an external, professional local tour guide to highlight the key landmarks. You could even work alongside local businesses to be able to offer some discounted treats along the way!
📚 A Day in The Life
Hold their first lecture or seminar
Throughout the open day, you could schedule a handful of “taster” lectures, to give the students a feel for what their day-to-day studies could look like. Make sure to choose thought-provoking topics with engaging professors to keep things interesting. Also, you’ll want to put a time cap on the lecture so that the students can have a brief overview before moving on to other activities throughout the day. Other things you could do to showcase your education is to include science experiments and seminars to give the students the opportunity to get hands-on.
Flaunt your gym facilities
Exercise is great for both the body and mind. Some of the students looking to join your university might already have a regular fitness routine that they enjoy and will want to stick to throughout their education with you. So, make sure to hold some fun activities that highlight the gym and sports facilities. There will also be students who are keen to get into fitness but don’t quite know where to start, so having the facilities open and available on the day will show them that your university can help them reach their physical goals as well as their educational ones.
✍️ In conclusion
There you have it, some creative ideas that you can incorporate into your university open day. Deciding on which university to attend is one of the greatest decisions that a student will ever make - not only in their education, but in their career and ultimately their lives. So, throughout your open day, really use this opportunity to showcase what makes your university unique. Implement some of the creative ideas and strategies that we’ve suggested to welcome these students into the next chapter of their lives.