5 Ways to Make Your Open Days Stand Out from the Crowd
Every year, students choose from hundreds of higher ed Open Days help at colleges and universities all around the globe. And you know that they’ll all have the obligatory welcome/sales pitch, the classic hall of information (with department staff behind desks), and those student-led campus tours.
Of course, we all have to include these – they’re the building blocks of your Open Days. But you know you need to do more, reach more and offer more than your competition to make your school stand out, in-person, online and post-event.
Creating an event that is memorable, effective and unique is a priority for all higher ed institutions. But it’s not always that straightforward.
Here are five things we’ve learned about creating higher ed events that stand out from the crowd.
1. Showcase what makes your school unique
With an ever-increasing number of providers, universities are always looking for their unique selling point. Find that one thing that makes your higher ed institution different from competitors and make it the focus of your event. If that’s great industry connections, invite partners along to network with prospective students – or if it’s your location, offer tours of the local area. Find that USP and offer something outside the box to demonstrate this which will pique the interest of your attendees.
Related: Hybrid Events for Higher Ed
Enabling student-to-student connections, even prior to arrival, is an excellent way to provide authentic views into your campus. Unibuddy empowers prospective students to connect digitally on their own terms and time with student ambassadors – peers they trust and can relate to. Student ambassadors have walked in their shoes, can help make them feel welcome and offer authentic views into what it’s like to be enrolled at your higher ed institution.
Learn more about Unibuddy Chat – our leading peer-to-peer, student-to-student, solution.
2. Get hands-on with student activities
We know that students take in more information when they’re actively learning, so feed this into the planning of your Open Day programme. Instead of the standard department introduction talks, mix things up with seminars, workshops, or lab experiments that your prospects can get involved in! This will ensure your sessions are not just engaging, but memorable too.
And be sure not to leave students out of the mix who cannot physically attend – such as your international prospects. Running digital events in tandem with your Open Day can help you scale your reach to include anyone, anywhere and on any device. With Unibuddy, for example, you can connect prospective students from a specific country with student ambassadors from their region who know exactly where they’re coming from and what they might want to ask.
Related: Unibuddy for international student recruitment
3. Recognize the power of the student ambassadors
Your student ambassadors are your biggest advocates, so make sure to incorporate them wherever possible into sessions. Don’t stop at campus tours. Ensure there is a student presence across the board in both department and advice talks throughout the event – offering their perspective alongside the key factual information that staff will be delivering.
Related: What is a student ambassador?
Student ambassadors are your greatest untapped resource when it comes to providing authentic views into your campus. They don’t just know your campus, programs and extracurriculars, they live them! Connecting student ambassadors with prospect students helps alleviate anxiety and helps soften the transitional shock of leaving home, often for the first time – and adds a familiar touch before they even arrive at your Open Day.
4. Make prospective students feel welcome
When trying to be conscious of spending, quite often the ‘nice touches’ are the first things to be cut. Don’t forget that these are often the bits that guests remember, which make you stand out as the sort of place they’d like to be. That free cup of coffee after a long journey to an Open Day should never be under-estimated!
Also be sure to provide your student ambassadors with the tools they need to be successful – and autonomous. The most effective ways to making your student ambassadors shine for incoming prospective students is to let them do their own thing, let them tell their own campus stories and write their own script. This ensures they appear genuine, authentic and personal – assuring even the most discerning member of Gen Z that your student ambassadors have, in fact, walked in their shoes before.
5. Engage prospective students post-event
Open Days answer many of your prospective students’ questions, but they often create a lot more too. Make sure that across the event you are clearly communicating the different ways students can get in touch following the event.
Encourage prospective students to connect with you, your student ambassadors or even staff post-event through effective peer-to-peer, student-to-student, platforms like Unibuddy Chat or Unibuddy Community – embeddable right on your site. Not only do these solutions help keep your student recruitment leads hot, but also helps students further their journey towards your school on their own terms. These two elements are crucial for lowering melt rates and pumping up overall yield.
Related: How to choose the best higher ed chat app
Putting on an Open Day is a huge undertaking, but the rewards are enormous. Nothing compares to seeing the university in person and meeting the students and staff face-to-face. By making sure your event stands out from the many others that prospective students will attend, in-person, virtually or as a hybrid event, you can ensure you’re maximizing your return from these crucial interactions.
Looking for more on running digital or hybrid student events? Download our free planning template.