Tips and Advice

8 things you need to know before you host your next open day

It’s officially open day season! And that means it’s your chance to show off and shout about your school, college or university and attract those all-important students.

So how’d you make sure that your open day is a success?

The main reason you host an open day is to build connections with potential students (and their parents), and in the end, get them to apply to be a part of your school, college or university.

It’s a chance for you to bring all of your online efforts into the real world and give every attendee a taste of what you’re all about. So how do you make it unmissable?

Start planning early

The earlier you plan, the smoother your open day will run. Start with the basics and make a run schedule for the day. Will you have multiple events going on? Think about how these will be co-ordinated. How will you make your day engaging? Will you be hosting seminars, speeches, events, games, performances?

Spread the word

Once you’ve set a date, it’s time to tell everyone. Use every platform at your disposal – think: social media, email, direct mail, written correspondence, offline advertising (if you have the budget) and Posters and Flyers distributed in local areas and community areas. If you have student ambassadors, get them on board to help you spread the word – perhaps with a local Flyer handout and of course, get them to spread the word on their online social accounts.

Consider influencers

Just like your student ambassadors, influencers can help you elevate your event and get everyone to sit up and take notice. But what makes an influencer, and how do you get them on board?

First, do your research. Are there any local celebrities or athletes from your town or area, or past alumni that could be willing to get involved?

Are any of your current students making waves in the online world?

Once you’ve identified these people, reach out. Be sure to tell them the benefits of your organisation and exactly what you’d like them to do (post a Tweet? Attend the day?).

On the day

Make sure your open day is easy to navigate

There’s nothing worse than showing up to an event and blindly following others, or missing important talks and events as you’re not sure how to find them, or get around.

Create an open day welcome pack for every attendee, which includes a rundown of the day, a map, promos (to show what you’ve got coming up – shows/fairs/fetes etc.) and even some freebies (pens and notebooks always work well here).

But that’s not all. Some people may not look at your included map, so you’ll need to make sure the signage at your event is top notch. Make your signs clear, use arrows to point people in the right direction and make sure that everyone knows where they’re going at all times.

It’s an idea to get students on board too, to hold signs and posts to help field attendees to your important events and areas.

Get people to share their experiences

Ok, so the day is going great. But how do you let others who aren’t in attendance know how great it’s going?

Creating a hashtag is an easy and simple way to collate everyone’s experiences and encourage them to share on social media.

Make sure you have a ‘social team’ on standby all day, (this could just be a single student or two) to take photos and keep your social media fields populated. If they have a good camera, they could also take photos for you to use in later marketing efforts via email or direct mail as a follow up.

Your social team could also be tasked with taking selfies of themselves and others to maximise engagement. To make this more fun, you could use a mascot, or perhaps have a photo booth.

Once the selfie or photo has been taken, get them to ask for the student’s social handles and immediately post to social media, tagging them in for greater reach. (Make sure to ask their permission!)

Don’t neglect the parents

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the exciting stuff you’re doing to engage potential students, but it’s really important to consider their parents. They’ll be key influencers in the decision making process. Make sure you have enough printed literature to sell yourself, for parents to pick up and take away. Consider helpers whose sole purpose it to answer parent questions or concerns. Think about setting up a parent lounge – an area stocked with information, handouts, prospectuses and course materials, and maybe a helper or two as well. Make it comfy, provide tea and coffee and make them feel as at home as you hope their children will be when they join your school, university or college.

After the open day

Follow up with relevant information

Once the day is done, your job isn’t over! As we already mentioned, you’ll have a treasure trove of content to use from your social channels and photography – so don’t let it go to waste!

Keep your social media feed stacked with highlights, consider posting videos and excerpts from speeches or talks to keep it fresh in the minds of everyone that attended.

Use this info for email communications too, so you can go into a little more depth.

Take it offline

Why not create a direct mail piece with all of your great photos as a key round up and memento of the day? If you do this, don’t forget to send a letter too, to thank attendees for being part of the day. The personal touch could be the difference between an applicant choosing you and somewhere else to study.

At, we’ve created a dedicated Education Collection, full of essentials like Display Boards (which can be supplied with drilled holes, so they’re ready to hang as soon as they arrive), plus Self Adhesive Vinyl, Leaflets and Flyers for promos and events, plus all the little things, like Branded Notebooks (for diaries), Stickers, (in all shapes and sizes) CertificatesBookmarksLetterheads and Printed Envelopes too.

And, as a registered education professional, you can save 15% on each and every order when you sign up with us! Find out more about how we’re dedicated to helping here.

Are you a teacher? How are you using print to help inspire in the classroom? Let us know in the comments. And to make sure you never miss a thing, and get up to date advice and tips for making the most of educational print, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and don’t forget to head to our blog for loads more.

About the author

Bex is our Senior Content Manager and lover of all things community. When she's not glued to her phone you can find her out cycling in the Chiltern Hills or braving the London commute on her Brompton.

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