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Offer holder visit days- what do your DCs expect?

(106 Posts)
NickyNicky Fri 09-Feb-18 15:28:08

I've NC because this is potentially quite outing.

I hope I'm not being too cheeky posting here. I'm an academic and admissions tutor for a social science degree at a Russell Group university.

Next week we are hosting visit days for offer holders. The offer holders spend the morning with tours of the university, talks from the Union etc. then the afternoon is subject-specific sessions. In these sessions we do talks about the degree and example teaching.

I think they work well but I'm never sure (and University is blocking us doing research for all sorts of reasons). What I'd really like to know is what do your DCs want from their subject-specific sessions when they come to an offer-holder day?

Any thoughts on this are really gratefully received

NickyNicky Fri 09-Feb-18 17:06:31


HammersRaised Fri 09-Feb-18 17:17:31

I think it’s really important to have your ‘best’ students present during the talks or giving tours. For DD, this gave her a good indication of what people studying her subject at the university are like. It’s a shame that on the last offer holder day she attended, none of the students she spoke to had put the university down as their first choice. They assured us that they are happy but one of them disappointingly added that he was glad he didn’t get into his first choice as he would have felt out of his depth! The girl giving the campus tour was very sweet, but English was not her first language; she was visibly nervous, couldn’t get her sentences out properly and she didn’t understand some of the parents’ questions. Overall, I would say that the lacklustre students were the make or break and in DD’s case, they were enough to put her off.

HammersRaised Fri 09-Feb-18 17:18:24

We are going to three more offer holder days, so happy to report back if you want!

NickyNicky Fri 09-Feb-18 17:25:45

That's great to know, thank you so much.

Unfortunately we struggle to recruit students to help in our visit days so we have to take what we can get sometimes. I totally take your point though. Perhaps its also about briefing our student helpers so even if they're not our "best" they can still make a good impression.

I would be absolutely delighted if you would report back, thank you.

walkingwoods Fri 09-Feb-18 17:34:44

I’ve been on a couple already. Totally agree about the student helpers - they’re the ones doing the tours so the ones you are talking to directly and asking their opinions. They’re also the ones that the leave the biggest impression on the applicants.

I went to one and we were all held in the student union and then taken off in groups to respective depts - it was busy and chaotic not the best first impression. However once in the dept it was much more organised.

The second one was much more organised, straight to the dept, met by students and then taken to a dept talk. The whole day was very professional.

One thing that has impressed me by both of the visits I’ve made is the effort put into parental talks. Both visits students were taken off for subject specific talks whilst lecturers / admin explained student finance / loans etc. Appreciate some parents may not need it but I have found it extremely helpful.
Have another one next week, not social sciences though so not yours!

HammersRaised Fri 09-Feb-18 17:41:46

The student helpers even had lunch with us, so that meant even more time to make a good or bad impression! On the plus side, it was nice that breakfast and lunch was provided. I wasn’t expecting that.

DD’s subject is maths, by the way, so we’re not coming to yours either! Good luck smile

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 09-Feb-18 17:48:43

My dc wanted practical details about what a typical week might look like in terms of lectures, classes, etc. They thought that offer holder days weren't always sufficiently different to open days - e.g. one day started with a "why do this subject?" lecture which seemed daft given the audience! They wanted to know why this university, and why this particular course.

They were surprised how many parents were there, and would have preferred the offer holder days to be parent-free to give them more of a chance to chat to potential coursemates.

ifigoup Fri 09-Feb-18 17:51:44

Cosmetic/fabric-related things are important too: clean loos! But those aren't in the control of individual departments.

DOLLYDAYDREAMER Fri 09-Feb-18 20:30:01

Yes agree with above. prospective students would prefer to spend time with current students talking about workload, living away and social life etc. Good one DD went on she took part in seminar with others while parents had lecture on finance, accomodation etc. also lots of info on all the option choices in the first year to get you interested

LoniceraJaponica Fri 09-Feb-18 20:33:45

"Unfortunately we struggle to recruit students to help in our visit days"

Why is that? At open days the students were keen and happy. Was that because it was the end of term/beginning of term and they didn't have a massive workload? Or is it your particular subject?

user1469682920 Fri 09-Feb-18 20:40:09

Ive been to a few having three children going through. Entertaining, interesting, inspiring lectures/talks are key. They set the tone of the dept. It also says a lot if you can’t get top and engaging students to help out. You would think that a happy, successful department where students are happy and feel part of it would have students who are proud of their course and want to show it off - that was certainly the impression we got at the places we liked best. See if you can find some to do that for you - it will make a huge difference

eatyourveg Fri 09-Feb-18 21:17:19

I've been to 4 offer days and would agree that the most disappointing ones have been where the presentations are the same as those on the open day.

Best offer days have been where the students do the tours For me the best one was with ds1 when there was an opportunity to go to a lecture in the morning (parents and potential students) followed by a seminar (potential students only) in the afternoon, while the parents were off having Q&A sessions.

Worst one was with ds3 when we were all herded together into a lecture hall (people sitting on the floor and on the steps it was so overcrowded depsite having to book so they knew the numbers) for general talk about the uni then en masse to the dining hall where again there wasn't enough room for everyone and then back to the same lecture hall for a talk about all the variants available within the department and then one huge campus tour. It was far too big a group and more akin to an open day as the talks were regurgitating the prospectus and the website. ds rejected it as soon as we got home.

FreedaDonkey Fri 09-Feb-18 22:36:49

I'm admin on a Facebook group called What I wish I knew about uni.

Feel free to ask this question on there, we have lots of students and parents and you'll get lots of feedback on there. Most of us have been to lots of open days.

truelove Fri 09-Feb-18 22:38:59

We’re going to DD’s first offer holders’ open day at Leeds Uni at the end of the month but reading everyone’s posts with interest. Will report back if not too late for your research OP.

CuboidalSlipshoddy Fri 09-Feb-18 22:47:48

I'll be doing an AVD tomorrow (RG, STEM).

We give every student the best part of half an hour with an academic, almost without exception an academic who teaches a significant part of the undergraduate programme (not necessarily first year). It's a two-way thing: an opportunity to speak in private without other students, or parents, around, plus an opportunity for us to put on our best face. We also provide more focussed talks than at an open day, a more in-depth campus tour, and sessions about some of the parts of the programme we are proudest of. There's a parallel programme for parents, of which I know less: to me, it's the students that matter.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Fri 09-Feb-18 22:51:12

I work in a role that is similar, albeit with substantial differences, but close enough.

My first question would be WHY you are not getting student ambassadors to work for you.
- are you paying them? They simply won't work without pay on a reliable basis. Vouchers are not the same as cash and are not as effective at getting students to work.
- are you doing it as part of a programme where you recruit (Advertisements! Application forms! Interviews!) and train a batch at the start of each academic year, or are you just trying to find them on an event by event basis? If it's not a proper scheme with a job title and a reference, again you will struggle and anyone capable of holding a job down at Costa Coffee will work there in preference.
- is the communication between your department and your ambassadors effective?
- if you're struggling to do this as a department, go and find your student recruitment department (possibly called marketing, outreach, education liaison or similar; the widening participation team will be able to point you in the right direction). Then ask for the student ambassador manager; someone will have this as their whole or part job title. Ask them to supply some student ambassadors for your offer holder day, and pay their wages. Chances are they will have some students from your department on their books. You can, however, work with a mix of ambassadors from other subject areas (student life questions, accommodation, local area, generic campus tours etc. etc.) and ambassadors from your subject area (subject specific questions).

We find that the single most important thing at our events is having good quality student ambassadors in the most prominent positions, doing the talking. Put the new ones, the less confident, the not quite as good ones on the registration desk, opening doors, etc etc., not doing the talks.

On so many occasions I've seen academics struggling to run these events, not seeking or accepting help from the experts (student recruitment team) while the SR team shakes their head and mutters something uncomplimentary about academics. Seek help!

dkb15164 Sat 10-Feb-18 06:49:43

Current 3rd uni student at highly ranked university (#1 for its course subject in the times). I never attended an offer Day, only the open day. They had one of their halls filled with prospective employers who work closely with our uni (no lie either, they have been active throughout our coursework and offer a number of internships allocated specifically to our students). Union had lots to offer. Never found the student giving the tour to be as important as other people make out, I wanted fact based evidence as a good marketer can sell even the worst uni. Seeing the library and group meeting facilities was particularly interesting to me as ours is all relatively new. For me as a deaf student, I was given the opportunity to meet with the disability department who discussed support available and played a huge role in choosing the uni I did. @user1469682920 we get offers all the time to come and help out at open days and the like but honestly the top 10% (I'm in this group usually, for at least a few of subjects anyway) are busy with internships, societies, volunteering, union campaigning, networking with potential future employees as well as the part time job that nearly every student has to have to support themselves. A degree no longer guarantees employment so we all have to work twice as hard it seems, can never understand parents who talk about their wild party days at university - I feel blessed if I have the money and time to go out once a week. You'll never find the best students giving tours because the best students are always busy improving their CVs. So even though it's only a day and we should be proud of our courses, even the pay isn't really enough incentive to get us to waste what might be our only day off that week to look after potential fresher students who will end up contributing to the high drop out rate on our course because they weren't 100% sure if they wanted to study our subject in the first place. It's just not something we prioritise. It might be snobbery but so many of the kids who come to uni seem to need to be held by the hand and talked through every thing - there's information on the website, us telling them how university was for us isn't going to be how university is for them, every experience is different. Showing timetables with the different classes and extra curriculars available to each degree is also important, it was good to know what a typical week would look like.

eatyourveg Sat 10-Feb-18 08:22:43

Showing timetables with the different classes and extra curriculars available to each degree is also important, it was good to know what a typical week would look like.
Agree 100% only one place i went to with dc did that.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sat 10-Feb-18 10:25:31

Why do some universities not do weekend dates? One of dds costs three times the price to get there on a week day and would mean a day away from college, missing a full days worth of lessons. Add in two or three like that and it becomes really disruptive and expensive.

Are they actually worth it if they already know which their insurance and firms are going to be?

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 10-Feb-18 11:22:18

Think my girls did 5 between them, and basically they just confirmed what they felt they already preferred.

HammersRaised Sat 10-Feb-18 11:23:30

Agree that they’re expensive and do take up time, so definitely not worth it if DC know what their insurance and firm will be. DD knows what her firm will be, but is going to 3 offer holders to choose the insurance as we didn’t go to the open days.

HotelEuphoria Sat 10-Feb-18 11:31:09

Agree with the pp about paying for student ambassadors. DD is at uni of Leeds she was paid £8 an hour to work for her school at these type of events and no shortage of recruits as a result.

FakeMews Sat 10-Feb-18 12:36:54

I've had two DC go through this.
At this stage they are narrowing down to firm or insure. Not interested in tours or accommodation and not too interested in talking to current students. This may be because the student ambassadors are of a type - loyal and jolly and probably knowing nothing about the course.

In my DC case it was all about the course. Not the social life or the SU. The modules the flexibility, the tutor system. What made the most impression was academic staff on hand who would answer questions and be enthusiastic about the course.

I would also add that the experience at open day changed the order of firm / insurance for both DC.

LoniceraJaponica Sat 10-Feb-18 12:39:19

DD will go to her insurance one to basically make sure whether she even wants to do the course if she doesn't get the grades she requires for medicine.

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