How to prepare your students for their first UCAS fair
Busy halls, lots of noise, achy feet. It’s easy for students to get overwhelmed at a
UCAS/ Higher Education fair. Here’s my top tips when preparing them for what to expect and how to make the best use of their time.
Encourage students to research which universities they want to talk to and where
they are located in the exhibition centre. For UCAS events, universities exhibit in
alphabetical order so it’s normally quite easy to find us.
It would be helpful for them to prepare a list of questions to ask; entry requirements,
facilities, placements, accommodation and information about the region are good
starting points. They could be speaking to ten or more unis, remind students to bring
along a pen and paper to make notes.
Universities will ask to scan students’ barcodes, ask them to have this easily
accessible and not hidden away in the bottom of their bag. We know students are
wary about spamming, but we only send information that is relevant and useful to
them and they can unsubscribe at any time.
UCAS fairs are a great opportunity for students to expand their horizons. Encourage
them to speak to universities they haven’t heard of or considered previously (and not
to just follow their friends – easier said than done). They might be surprised by what
they hear and learn about courses or opportunities they didn’t know were available.
Prospectuses weigh a tonne!
Some students will be happy having a chat with staff on the stand and follow up with
an online request for a prospectus to be sent to their home. Others want to collect a
prospectus from every uni they chat to. If this is the case, they will need a really
sturdy bag, or if they have one, a small suitcase on wheels is ideal.
UCAS fairs include workshops and seminars on a range of topics including
transition, progression and student finance talks. Students might think they need to
go to all of these, but many colleges offer these talks internally at key points in the
academic cycle. Have a chat with students beforehand to make them aware of this
so they can make the best use of their time whilst at the fair.
Food and drink at exhibition centres cost a small fortune, with long queues for a
bottle of pop and a burger. It can also get quite warm so students should bring along
snacks, drinks and, if they are super organised, a packed lunch.
Bonus CPD for you – what can you be doing during the event?
UCAS fairs are a great networking opportunity and chance for you to find out about
developments in different institutions and the sector. At Teesside we always bring
along teacher and advisor packs containing information on our outreach offer to give
to staff we speak to. Ask other universities if they have something similar.
Students have attended the convention, are exhausted from carrying all those
prospectuses and skint from spending a fortune on hotdogs. What’s next? Students
will have been given lots of information and spoke to lots of different universities
during the day, so whilst it is fresh in their minds, ask them to make notes on the bus
journey home – who did they speak to and what did they like? This will be so helpful
when they come to re-visit the information in a few weeks.
Encourage students to book themselves onto open days for those unis they really
liked. Seeing the campus, facilities and being able to speak to academic staff helps
so much towards making an informed decision.
Good luck and Teesside University will see you at a UCAS fair soon!