It’s that time of the year again when families travel will travel the length and breadth of the country in search of the best University for their son or daughter. For many parents it will be the first time they’ve stepped across the threshold of a university but others will be old hands at the process because they’ll have gone though it for younger siblings or they may have been university students themselves.
If you’re new to the process or you’ve not been to one of these Open Days for a few years then you will need to plan your day (including the travel and parking arrangements) will military precision. With more and more students looking to go to university the Open Days are usually heaving and simply getting to the University can be a challenge – if you’re not a lover of “Park and Ride” then you might just have to relax your prejudices because at Universities like Exeter its pretty much the only way you can get to the campus and whilst they’re well planned the “Park and Ride” aspect can add around 2+ hours to your day!
Once on the campus it can be pretty intimidating finding your way around and if you’ve got pre-booked subject talks then the pressure will be on to find the right lecture room and get a seat. Most sessions will be rammed so it’s a good idea to get their early (Park and Ride permitting!).
There is always lots of information on hand from the University and the various departments and of course they’ll be plenty of additional information of admissions, financing and accommodation to take in on the day.
Lots of universities go out of their way to ensure that on arrival you have a hard copy of the university or college prospectus, details of the fees and any bursaries etc. information on the application process, a map of the university and occasionally a food voucher to redeem in one of the university restaurants and a welcome bottle of water to keep you hydrated during what can be a long and exhausting day!
You might also get the occasional insert or flyer from the Students Union that will give you a taster of the range of extra-curricular activities that are on offer at the University.
An “Open Day” is after all the universities opportunity to sell themselves to you and your son or daughter. Competition amongst the universities to bag the best and brightest students is fiercer than ever and Open Days (as well as exam results) play a huge part in helping students decide where to apply to.
Whilst a promotional USB Memory Stick printed with the universities logo is not going to influence anyone’s university choice it is interesting how many are now supplying these to prospective students as part of the packs they hand out. The promotional USB sticks are typically pre-loaded with copies of the prospectus and all the important forms any prospective student might need. With as much as 8GB of space available on even the most basic USB Stick many universities are increasingly loading videos onto the sticks illustrating student life on campus as well as offering links to Social Networking and Web sites. If you’re visiting lots of universities over the next few months it will be interesting to see just how many USB memory sticks you can acquire!
The way in which universities now engage with prospective students has changed enormously over the past few years. Aside from USB sticks other techniques include:
- QR codes that can be scanned by Smart Phones and take the students directly to the University (or University department) web sites).
- Facebook pages that allow the students to engage with the university, current and prospective students.
- Twitter pages that deliver live news/information snippets.
- Smart phone apps
- Email and text updates
This year with around 500,000 university places to fill expect the tens of thousands of USB sticks to be given away and for the airways to be full of tweets, emails and chatter. Times have certainly changed!