How To Navigate a Virtual Campus Open House

By Heather Beaumont

Special to the Toronto Star

The Star took some of the guesswork out of what to expect when visiting college and university online open houses and virtual tours. I added the delightful picture book cover image to the post.

At this time of year, students who have applied to, accepted or are exploring post-secondary school options, are registering and logging on to attend virtual campus open house events.

Here’s a sample of what you can expect when visiting virtual open houses.

Ontario Tech University
Virtual Open House

Saturday, March 27, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“The open house is more than just a Q and A,” says Joe Stokes, university registrar at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our programs, our research, our facilities and all of the great things that come with being a student at the university.” Of the university established in 2002, he adds, “We are that nimble young university that focuses on technology and on being innovative.”

Student prospects and parents are advised to pre-register for the event but they can also log in when the event goes live.

Visitors can click on the Navigating Your Day link and will be shown how to navigate the website. “There’s also a navigation on the left side where students can find out what time presentations are running, what faculties have chat rooms and other services that are there to talk to students,” says Stokes.

Future students will be able to talk with faculty, admissions officers, awards and financial officers, support staff and current students.

Wilfrid Laurier University
Virtual Open House

Monday, April 5 to Saturday, April 10, 5 to 9 p.m.

There’s still time to learn about the Faculties of Human and Social Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier’s Brantford Open House campus event. “Students are making a final decision at this time of year,” says Craig Chipps, manager, Canadian Student Recruitment, as the June 1 deadline for acceptance of admission offers looms. “Aside from buying a home, it’s the largest investment a family can make.”

Future Golden Hawks and varsity team supporters are encouraged to explore the university’s website and develop questions before participating at the event, including virtual campus tours.

Faculty and staff will address the mechanics of admissions, academic programs and experiential learning opportunities. Pre-recorded videos are also available to view. And an email campaign allows for continued engagement after the event.

Algonquin College
Virtual Open House

Wednesday, April 7, 3 to 6 p.m.

Postsecondary education is a big investment, says Anne Kalil, manager, Recruitment, Algonquin College. “We tell people would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? You want to make sure it’s the right fit.”

Algonquin’s Virtual Open House event provides a customized menu of events and a recruitment team to guide them.

Pre-register for the event and learn about academic programs, credit transfers, residence life, financial aid, college applications, student services and experiences.  Faculty, students and alumni are on hand to answer questions. A virtual tour is available along with weekly, live virtual tours.

Humber College
Virtual Open House

Saturday,  April 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Humber College emphasizes career-focused learning for high school students and adult learners. Prospective students can choose to pre-register or register on the day of the live virtual open house event to join the session and ask questions.

Faculty members, senior teams and support services staff also answer questions about experiential learning opportunities, transferring credits and financial aid options that include bursaries, scholarships and funding.

Student ambassadors answer questions so prospective students can find out more about virtual learning or “what it’s really like to attend Humber,” explains Joy Borman, manager, New Student Recruitment and Advising.       

Future students can also access pre-recorded videos and information sessions from the previous virtual Fall Open House to get a sense of the college.

Centennial College
Virtual Open House

Sunday, April 11, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Centennial College’s Aaron Schoenmaker advises virtual open house visitors to prepare their questions and “ask the questions they might not have been able to get answered by viewing the website material.”        

This includes an Open House On Demand with video greetings from the college president, guidebooks, virtual tours, program videos and webinar Wednesdays. “We want them to ask questions so we know they’re making the best decision for them,” says Schoenmaker, acting manager, Recruitment.

Open house visitors do not need to pre-register. On event day, an accordion menu will announce the virtual open house, with times and links to individual sessions.

“There’ll be information on specific program areas and schools of study,” says Schoenmaker. “Visitors will be invited into breakout rooms to connect with coordinators and faculty members from individual programs.”

George Brown College
Virtual Open House

Saturday, April 17, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“This is going to be our largest Open House,” says Dave Scott, manager, Office of the Registrar. The college-wide event will involve faculty, program coordinators, support services, athletics and recreation staff, current students and student club representatives.

Visitors are encouraged to click on Zoom links to attend online presentations, talk with advisors and participate in the virtual campus tour.

“It’s a chance to interact with people who work at the college and ask about the experience,” says Scott. “We hope people will come out. It will help them make a decision.”

Pre-registration directs visitors to eventbrite.ca to receive an email link to the live presentation.

To learn more about events and programs at Ontario’s universities and colleges, visit OntarioUniversitiesInfo.ca and OntarioColleges.ca.

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