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How to Survive Applicant Event Season in Higher Education

two students chatting

The season to be jolly and lounge around eating Christmas chocolates has long gone, and it’s that time of year again when recruitment events teams all over the UK will spend the weekends delivering a fantastic set of applicant event days. 

We’ve written lots about making those events great for your prospective students. Giving them a warm welcome, a stand-out service and a memorable experience. But what about you? How can you survive this season?

One of my previous bosses taught me that in running an event you need to ‘channel your inner swan’ – and it’s something that has stuck with me ever since. 

Keep your legs powering through swimming underwater, but maintain that cool air of calm that gives everyone else confidence in the event’s success. 

So, with that in mind, here are my six tips to help you, your team and your hard working ambassadors survive the applicant event season.

1. Bring more pep than a cheerleading squad

Your team of staff and student ambassadors will look to you for motivation, so wave those pom poms and cheer them on to give your visitors the best experience possible. 

Even if you don’t feel peppy, lifting the spirits and motivations of your team will pay dividends. 

And, the research shows that even faking a smile will reduce stress and make you feel happier! 

2. Carb load! 

I used to joke with my team that Working an Event Day is Like Running a 10k, and you need to prepare the same way. 

Treat yourself to a gigantic bowl of pasta as you scroll through those night before emails and prepare to get all the steps in the next day.

3. Wake up

This sounds easy – but event days mean early starts and for those of us that aren’t early birds, this can be tough. 

I recommend the hat-trick of devices (phone / laptop / screaming housemate) to ensure you’re up on time and ready to go. 

Using a series of phone alarms to remind yourself to get going with your first few tasks of a day can be handy before the caffeine kicks in.

4. Layer up like you’re going to the arctic

I have only two words. Thermal. Underwear.

Something about running around a campus for 10 hours makes you feel cold like nothing else! 

Bring a kit bag like you’re off on a hike stuffed full of your favourite jumper, thermal layers and of course – spare socks and shoes for when the inevitable event day rain comes pouring down.

5. Be ready to deploy snacks

4 months after I ran my last recruitment event and I’m still finding chocolate bars and sweets stuffed into the corners of every handbag I own.

Be prepared to launch these at team members as they run past to find that broken sign / rogue student ambassador / escaping baby goat (I promise – this really happened). 

Nothing says supportive manager like a chocolate bar flying through the air in your direction.

6. Get the post-event treats ready

Putting a bottle of something fizzy in the fridge the night before I ran an applicant event became a bit of a ritual for me. 

Whatever your treat of choice, have it ready and waiting in full view for when you walk through the door – you have absolutely and unequivocally earned it. 

Congratulations on surviving another event day (and good luck for the next one!).

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