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Here’s what you should ask at a virtual open day

virtual open day
You can "visit" any university from home thanks to virtual open days and tours, but make the experience count. Source: Tracey Shelton/AFP

Attending a virtual open day is not much different from a campus open day. You get to check out the campus, interact with faculty members, and ask questions that will help you decide where to study. A little extra research and planning can help you make the most of the virtual open day experience.

Here are six topics you should get more information on, and how to ask the right questions. Bear in mind that departments and schools often hold their own sessions to address specific topics and queries.

Admissions and support

As this is the first application process for many, there may be questions like “What do you look for in a personal statement?” and “How much weight is given to interview performance?” At the same time, you should also seek to understand the range of student support at the university.  Where can I get academic and administrative support? What are the health and counselling resources available? These are good questions to gauge how well you will be cared for at this institution.

Course

Discuss course structure, modules, and assessment. Ask about class sizes and instruction methods. Direct questions like “What sets this university apart for this particular course offering?”, “How much time will I spend in lectures as opposed to independent study?”, and  “What is the assessment structure?” will prove particularly useful.

Opportunities

Sports and societies. Internships and externships. A year abroad. These are all opportunities to extend your learning, so you should get informed on them. Do your research before the virtual open day; see what clubs are most popular at the university, check their industry partners, and read student or alumni testimonials. You should also enquire about part-time work: “What are the rules to work as an international student?” “What job opportunities are there on campus?”

virtual open day

The key to a fruitful virtual open day? Asking the right questions to the right people, at the right time. Source: Loic Venance/AFP

Finance

Whether it is tuition fees or sneaky resource fees, you should clarify every cost with a university employee. Those who live in the area can also advise on budgeting for accommodation and living expenses. Besides that, you should ask about financial aid: “What scholarships and bursaries are there for international students, and how can I qualify?”

Accommodation

“What are the advantages of living on campus?” “How has campus life changed since COVID-19?” “How can I guarantee a place in the student halls?” Deciding on accommodation goes beyond perusing a list of campus amenities and facilities. Ask students and staff about their experience and take a virtual tour of the campus before making your decision.

Progression

It’s never too early to start thinking about career progression; in fact, now is the perfect time to get involved. Aside from weighing your own interests and skills, you should also seek insights by asking “How employable are graduates with my degree?” “How can I use my time at university to make myself more employable?” “What are the career pathways of recent graduates?”

You can talk to a career counsellor about these, but ideally, you should also speak to graduates from your course currently in the industry, as well as more experienced alumni members. Now go forth and make the best of your virtual open day!

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