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An Insider’s Guide to the Virtual Open Days

By Anna Bodman

After the success of the summer events, this Friday (18th September), Oxford University is holding another virtual open day for any student considering Oxford as an option. Whoop!

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I am going to be honest here: open days are a super overwhelming experience. Visiting a new city and talking about your future can be scary enough without the prestige of Oxford and the uncertainty of it being online! This is big stuff and big decisions. It is totally natural if you feel scared or don’t know where to start – I know I certainly felt like that!

But don’t worry. As someone who has been hired by her college to help out with this virtual event, I thought I’d write an insider’s guide to tackling the open days and getting the most out of the experience! I will be answering questions on the Univ college page this Friday afternoon, and would love to “speak” to as many TUS readers as possible – see you there! But for now: my open day plan of action…

1. Registration

Unlike some universities, registration for the Oxford open day is not compulsory. However, I would recommend registering your interest as, not only does this generate personalised email reminders about other events, it will also ensure you get priority treatment if the website experiences a lot of traffic. Register your interest by filling out this short form:

2. Logistics

Although you don’t (thankfully) have to worry about transport, it is important you find the time and resources to make the most of this virtual event. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and a phone/laptop you can access the website on and make notes with. Also – remember that Friday is a school day! Think in advance whether this clashes with any lessons and leave spare a few hours to really take a look at the resources on offer. If you need time off school (obviously a last resort) speak to your teachers days in advance and see what they can do.

Top Tip: Most visitors to the open days log on as soon as the pages go live, meaning that the start of the day is very busy. If you want to avoid technical issues and get longer/more considered replies from students, consider attending later in the day or during “lunch time” instead.

3. Plan of action

It is always good to attend open days with an idea of what you want to get out of them. I’d recommend writing down a list of questions you want answered, as this will make navigating the (many) pages much easier. Obviously, this plan will depend on what point you are at in the application process, but the open day should be able to answer any query from colleges, to courses, to general university life stuff. My golden rule? No question is a silly question, only asking no question at all.

4. The day…

On Friday, the page will launch with three main sections – college pages, department pages and generic university information. Use your plan of action to prioritise what you look at and don’t worry if you don’t get through everything, as some content might not be relevant to you.

Top tip: Most of the recorded content/videos will remain on the website after Friday. If you are short on time, focus on the interactive features such as the student Q&A panels as these will only be live for Friday!

Here are some things not to miss:

· The college Q&A pages! University College will be virtually open all day for you to chat to both current students AND academic staff in a super informal and non-scary way. Come armed with questions about any aspect of university life and get truthful answers! These Q&A pages might also be a good way to compare and shortlist colleges.

· Watch the taster lecture for any subject you are interested in! Not only are these super interesting, really useful for reading around your subject and a good start for personal statements, the taster lectures are a good way to see whether the course is for you or not!

· Watch the videos introducing the support Oxford has to offer – especially the careers section and the Disability Service!


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