Thursday, January 1, 2015

10 tips for prepare a University Fair

This article is adapted from the QS Top Grad School Guide 2014. For the full version, get your free digital copy (site registration required).
Attending a university fair is a great opportunity to meet representatives from lots of universities all in one place, and get answers to all your questions about university admissions, course content, study options, graduate careers and more. You may choose to attend a university fair focused on study options in your home country, or an internationally focused university fair such as the QS World Grad School Tour or QS World University Tour. Whichever type of event you opt for, here’s a list of 10 tips to help you get the most out of the experience.

1. Research your study options

It’s definitely a good idea to spend some time researching your study options before attending the event. This means you’ll be able to really benefit from the specialist knowledge of the university representatives and advisers on the day, rather than just using them to find out information you could have checked online.

2. Prepare some questions

As part of your research, write down a few questions or issues you’d like to discuss. These might be very specific, or simply a check list of topics, such as course structure, university admissions requirements, application deadlines and tuition fees. Don’t make this too long, or you’ll never get through it; aim for no more than five key points, focusing on the issues most important to you.

3. Check the schedule beforehand

A few days before the university fair, check the final schedule for the day (remember that this may have been altered slightly from earlier versions). Write down the start times of any presentations or panel discussions you definitely want to attend, as well as any you’re at least partly interested in.

4. Orient yourself on arrival

When you first arrive at the event, it may be tempting to just dive straight into a conversation with the nearest university admissions representative, but try to pause and give yourself time to get orientated. You’ll receive a floorplan showing the layout of the university fair, including information about all the schools attending and where to find them, so use this to plan your route.
Also remember that the event is likely to be especially busy towards the start, so don’t worry if you’re not able to speak to a particular university representative straight away – it’s worth waiting for a quieter moment when you can get his/her full attention!

5. Keep an open mind

While it is useful to come prepared and with a clear focus, try to balance this out by also remaining open to new study options and possibilities. You might find your ideal course exists in a form you didn’t previously know about, or that there’s a niche scholarship with your name on it in a country you hadn’t previously considered. Remember that all the universities attending the event are keen to recruit students from your region, and they’ve all potentially got something to offer you.

6. Talk to other candidates

Of course the main reason for attending a university fair is the chance to meet university admissions representatives and experts face-to-face. However, if you get the chance, try and speak to other prospective students around you as well, or at least listen to the questions they’re asking. After all, they will have done their research too, and could also be good sources of information or inspiration.

7. Keep an eye on the time

The event itself is likely to go very quickly once it begins, so make sure you don’t get too caught up in one conversation and miss out on other opportunities. You could consider setting an alarm on your watch or phone to warn you when the event is nearly over, so you can make sure you’ve collected all the information you need. Event staff will announce the start of each presentation and panel discussion in advance, so listen out for announcements!

8. Consider bringing a guest

University fairs such as the QS World Grad School Tour are free to attend, and prospective students are encouraged to bring guests along. This can be really helpful, as your companion can remind you to ask the right questions, keep you focused on your key objectives, and help you recall and sort through all the information afterwards.

9. Bring pen, paper and a bag

Whether or not you bring a guest, do make sure you bring a pen and paper so you can make a note of anything you want to follow up later. You might think you’ll remember, but there will be a lot to take in. You’re also likely to end up with a collection of information packs and prospectuses, so make sure you have a bag to carry them in.

10. Be ready to sell yourself

Finally, remember that while you’re assessing universities, the university representatives at the event are also on the lookout for top applicants. This isn’t an interview, but it won’t hurt to prepare as if it was one. So think about your appearance, how you introduce yourself, and the impression you’re making through the quality of the questions you’re asking.
Of course it doesn’t all end when the fair finishes – you’ve then got the task of sorting through all the information you collected, following up any interesting opportunities, and reaching that final decision. If you attend the QS World Grad School Tour, you’ll also be eligible to apply for an exclusive QS Scholarship.


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