Photo courtesy of Jennifer de Vera of Dawson’s Sustainability Office
Photo courtesy of Jennifer de Vera of Dawson’s Sustainability Office

Open House 2021: some lucky visitors and record participation

In just one day, about 1,000 prospective students and their parents snapped up limited appointment-only spots for guided tours of Dawson College at the end of October. Interest in attending Dawson College remains very high, demonstrated by record participation in Open House 2021.

More prospective students and parents than ever before participated in activities during this year’s Open House season. Dawson’s estimation of participation across all components of Open House adds up to 30,000 people.

Open House 2021 experience

The student-led guided tours of Dawson’s Living Campus marked a return to some in-person activities to promote student recruitment- a first since 2019. Students led groups through about 10 different stations, including the Peace Garden, the heritage front entrance and Library, the Upper Atrium, the home court of the Dawson Blues basketball teams, and more.

Dawson’s Open House 2021 experience also included an Open House microsite on Dawson’s website with pages dedicated to each program and profile, over 40 videos, chat sessions that allowed students to ask questions to faculty members and academic advisors, and webinars about how to apply.

Public health protocols over the past two years have forced colleges and universities to change the way they reach prospective students and their families. Dawson is no exception. Dawson could not offer in-person activities as part of the Open House 2020 experience. Instead, prospective students and their parents were invited to explore programs and profiles on a microsite, watch videos and ask questions during a series of live online chats.

2 Guided Tour at Peace Garden station Oct 30 2021

Photo courtesy of Jennifer de Vera of Dawson’s Sustainability Office

Breaking down the numbers

Open House 2021 was built on what was learned in 2020, using what worked well and adding new activities. Two How to Apply webinars took place on Sunday, Oct. 24 and attracted over 900 unique viewers and provided hundreds of answers to students in the Q & A. The three-hour afternoon chat sessions on the same day generated 600 one-on-one live exchanges. Videos for each program and profile were viewed by 5,064 unique viewers.

The website was the foundation for Open House and saw record traffic: 24,526 page views of the Open House landing page in September and October 2021, compared to 16,635 page views in September and October 2020. On the day of the chat sessions and webinars, Oct. 24, 2021, the Dawson website had 33,749 page views, which is triple what it gets on a typical Sunday.

Traffic increased on all the most popular pages (Programs at a glance, Open House landing page, How to apply) during Open House. As an example, the How to apply page had 20,481 page views in September and October 2021 compared to 14,614 page views in September and October 2020. When drilling down to individual program and profile pages, there were also increases in the number of pages viewed compared to 2020. On Oct. 20, the day of the English Montreal School Board Career Fair when Dawson’s academic advisors were available all day for questions from high school students, there was a remarkable spike in page views of the Dawson website: 40,483 page views in one day.

Each of these stats may represent one person or a whole family or group of friends huddled together watching a screen. It must also be noted that the bump in web traffic to the general website is driven by Open House. Some do not go to the Open House microsite; they search and go directly to program pages and other content they look for as part of their consideration of Dawson.

On the back end, behind the screen, Dawson had assembled a team of over 150 faculty members, academic advisors, deans, managers, professionals, support staff and current Dawson students to answer questions and ensure everything was working smoothly.

Open House through the years

For some historical context, Open House in the early to mid-2000s attracted 5,000 to 6,000 visitors at the College during a four-hour period on the third Sunday in October.

By 2008, that number was over 8,000 and visitors were arriving up to an hour before the start time. Between 2008 and 2018, that number ballooned to more than 11,000. At the last fully in-person Open House in 2019, visitors reached the 14,000-mark.

Changes to the Open House experience were accelerated by the pandemic. The College will continue to improve and fine-tune the event to make it more useful and pleasant for students and staff alike.


Information for prospective students

Prospective students and parents who have questions are invited to e-mail

On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, Dawson will offer another opportunity to explore our programs and profiles and speak to faculty members and academic advisors at Information Evening. Schedule and more info will be posted on Dawson’s website in mid-January.

Last Modified: November 3, 2021