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.
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.
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!
This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.
by Jon Cheek
posted on 7 Feb '23
The university application process can feel quite daunting for many young people, so it is understandable that parents and guardians will want to be involved and stay in the loop with any updates. This blog will guide you through how universities communicate with students and their support network.