Even though you can't currently visit them in person, you might be able to attend a virtual open day at a university or college to find out more about them.

Virtual open days checklist

You may have had great plans to visit all the unis you’re thinking of applying to, notebook in hand – but now find your only option is one of the virtual open days on offer across the UK. They, like the real thing are still a great way to explore what a provider has to offer, and, because of all the contact you’ll get, to see if you can picture yourself as a student there.

Although they are very different to visiting a campus in person, you can still make the most of the opportunity, and get a feel for the place you might be studying at. You’ll probably be asked to register in advance, and then go to the university website or follow a link on the day.

We’ve put together this handy checklist, so you can make sure you don’t miss any important opportunities.

  1. Make a shortlist of open days you want to attend. Without the restriction of travel, you could see many more universities and colleges. Be aspirational, and perhaps consider some you might not initially be drawn to.
  2. Make sure you understand the format. Virtual open days can include anything from online seminars, video virtual tours, to chats with existing students or lecturers. The uni or college website should explain how it will work. It really pays to understand the ones you’re interested in, so you can make sure you’re prepared and get the most out of the experience.
  3. Have a think about what you want to know before you start.
    • Which departments do you want to check out? To help, some universities have divided their open days up by subject, so you can choose which day suits you best.
    • Keep a notebook to hand with notes you’ve made, and questions you want to ask. You can refer to these throughout the event.
    • It might be good to have your own agenda for the event. Do you want to speak to people first? Or have a look at the facilities?
  4. Check out the buildings, and any other areas relevant to your course. That will give you an idea of the size of the campus, and where your course would be. Some unis have interactive maps so you can get a great idea of how things fit together.
  5. Are there any tours available? Think about what’s important to you and go from there.
  6. To get the most out of an open day, you’ll want to talk to as many people as you can, from lecturers to current students – those doing the same course, and even those studying other subjects.
    • From talking to lecturers, you should be able to get a good idea of how your chosen course will be delivered and assessed – presentations, essays, coursework, or exams?
    • Lots of unis are holding live webinars, to help you get the answers you’re looking for. Some are also offering live or near live chats with academics and students.
    • From other students you’ll find out more about the culture of the university, and work out if it’s the place you want to study. They’ll know all about the university city or town, who the best lecturers are, and where’s best to sit in the library for a study sesh!
    • Remember, if the uni you’re interested in doesn’t have a ‘chat’, try Unibuddy on ucas.com – we have representatives from many universities all over the UK – from all over the world, and homegrown ones too! You can ask them anything you want.

Questions to ask

There are some questions we’d recommend starting with, but add your own so you get the answers you want.

Questions you may want to ask about your course during the virtual open day:

  • What careers have recent graduates progressed on to?
  • How many students are on your chosen courses?
  • Do they hold interviews or make offers based solely on your UCAS application?
  • How many hours of teaching are there each week?

And don’t forget about lifestyle aspects:

  • You may love the look of the course, but what are the halls like? Are there societies and freshers’ activities that interest you? Many universities have virtual tours of their student accommodation. And others have guides about what to do when lectures are over for the day – university life is, after all, about much more than studying!
  • You could even conduct your own virtual walking tour of the uni city/town with Google Maps to get a feel for it.              

Have a look at the list of virtual open days, and start your journey today.