A University fair gives students the opportunity to talk directly with school representatives, recruiters, current students and alumni who can provide more detailed insight into Universities. So if you are leaving school this year and thinking about going on to third level education, don’t stress yourself out, rather see this as an opportunity to explore your career interests.
This guide provides some useful tips on how to make the most of university fairs. Let’s have a look…
Before The Fair
Some preparation before the event is essential, so make sure you do the following:
Come up with a list of universities:
Some students go to these events to have an in-depth chat with university representatives while others want to gather information leaflets and be done with it. But, if you want to make the most of them, collecting prospectuses shouldn’t be your top priority.
First, determine and research the subject(s) you are interested in. Then come up with a list of 10 to 15 universities that offer the subject and make a plan to speak to them on the day.
Research your study options:
There is no one way to study at university. If you are thinking about the possibility of studying and working at the same time, look for part-time courses, distance learning opportunities or apprenticeships. If you want to get the full-student experience, look for full-time courses and the possibility of living on campus. Also, look for joint or combined courses, if you want to study two subjects simultaneously.
While you are researching universities, look for courses that have what you need. Prepare questions you want to ask regarding courses, modules, methods of assessment and what type of degree you get. Write them down so that you don’t forget and go at the appropriate time to get the information you need. You can prepare questions on entry requirements, what the course offers and what student life is like. You can also get more information about the finances, student accommodation, safety, the cost of living and employability.
Here are some really good ones:
- How many hours of teaching time are there per day/week?
- What does the course cover?
- What learning support is there available?
- What’s the split between lectures, tutorials, and self-directed study?
- How does your undergraduate program compare to others?
- What are the qualifications and background of your faculty?
- What can I do to improve my chances of admission?
- What assessment methods are used?
- How much flexibility is there?
- What opportunities are there for me to broaden and deepen my understanding of the subject?
- What are the pros and cons of taking a joint or combined course?
Check the schedule:
Make sure you have enough time to talk to everyone you want. Double check the schedule and arrive at the event on time. Most students go with their parents as this is usually their first ‘communication’ with universities and they have a say in your decision. But even though most parents try to be helpful, they often get in the way. So if you want them to be useful and productive, plan the time together, and visit universities in turn.
Prepare to talk about yourself:
School representatives can tell if you are fit for a course, university or even a career, without having to check your grades. Essentially, this is your first ‘screening’, and you need to make it count. The way you choose to dress and communicate your knowledge of a course or university is all they need to get you on their list of must-have students.
Since we are not talking about qualifications here, it’s important to show your interpersonal skills and your interest in the particular subject and university. When you talk about yourself, refer to your interest in the chosen subject(s) and link this in any way with the course or institution.
During The Fair
Take your equipment with you:
The essential equipment of every student is the pen, the paper, and the bag. Unless you want to leave the event disappointed, you should prepare to take notes while you are at the event. A bag is also needed to collect the information leaflets and the accessories schools give out. While you are taking notes, make sure to write down the name of the school representative and their email so that you know who to ask for when the time comes.
Talk to other candidates:
If you find someone who’s interested in the same course as you, you might find that you have the similar questions to ask school representatives. Who knows, you may end up living together as roommates. When it comes to studying at a university, students should help other students whenever possible. You might learn about a university or courses you haven’t heard of. So make sure you exchange advice and information you get from schools with other people.
Meet and talk to university representatives:
The list you prepared, should prove handy at this point. Make a note of the Universities you want to get more information about and talk to everyone at the fair because you might never get another chance. Don’t forget the more people you talk to the more information you are going to get.
So, approach representatives, say hello, be friendly and smile whenever possible. You want to make a good first impression on everyone. You might think that there is no reason to do so at this point, but it’s essential, as this helps them remember you and refer you to the appropriate department if needs be.
Attend seminars and presentations:
One of the most rewarding things you can do while at a university fair is to attend the seminars and presentations. These provide great opportunities to first-year students as they give handy tips and advice on enrollment, student life, specific subjects, courses and career prospects. It is the perfect time to get your notepad out of the bag!
After The Fair
Show your interest in the university you have chosen with a follow-up email. Take this chance to thank the person you talked to on the day and tell them that you appreciate the time and the advice they have given you. You can also ask questions that are more specific to the course or ones that you didn’t have the time to ask.
Communicate with admissions:
If you have missed the opportunity to talk to representatives because they were unavailable on the day, you can reach out to the university after the event is finished. Better yet, send them an email, asking them for more information. Admissions are there to help prospective students so they are more likely to respond promptly.
Keep an eye on upcoming events:
Make sure you stay up to date with upcoming events so that you don’t miss out of opportunities. The best way to look is the official site of the university you are interested in. You can also check for open days on Prospects.ac.uk and UKunifair.
Attending a university fair is a real eye-opening experience. Even though there is a lot of useful material online, the best way to get what you need and make a well-informed decision about your career is to actually go to one of these events!
Have you ever been to a university fair? What are your thoughts on them? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below…