How to prepare for a UCAS exhibition? My top tips to pass on to students planning to attend:
The distinct whiff of newly printed prospectuses is in the air. University recruitment teams are busy finalising their travel logistics. Design teams are adding the final flourishes to display stands. All of these activities are clear indicators of a phenomenon that will commence this week - the annual round of UCAS Exhibitions.
For staff involved in student recruitment and outreach, the UCAS Exhibitions are a wonderful opportunity to do what we most enjoy about our roles - engaging directly with learners who are considering a progression to higher education and offering them information, advice and guidance.
A UCAS Exhibition provides learners with direct access to a huge range of providers and resources. The volume of information available can be daunting, so some preparation before the event will ensure that time on the day can be well spent.
I remember attending a UCAS event myself back in 1999 when I was in sixth-form, and admit to having no plan as to what my intention for the day was. Thankfully, things turned out alright in the end. However, if it were possible to head back in time and advise my younger self, this is what I would say (apart from ‘get a better haircut and remember to stick to your revision timetable!’):
Preparing for the event - my top three tips:
1. Review the exhibition guide and highlight the stands that you’re most interested in visiting. It’s not going to be possible to get around all the stands in the time you have available, so maximise the time you have by being clear about who you’d like to see.
2. There’s going to be a lot of information for you to take away from the event and read later, but have a think about the questions you might want answered at the event (e.g. What accommodation options are there? Are there any scholarships or bursaries available? What have recent graduates who’ve studied at the university gone on to do?).
3. Remember to pack some lunch and take a strong bag with you to carry things. Prospectuses can be heavy and small plastic bags were not designed to carry a lot of them!
Taking advantage of the event itself - three more:
1. Remember that this isn’t an exercise in who can gather up the most freebies in the available time. By all means take a bag and/or pen if they’re offered, but make sure you visit the stands you planned on seeing.
2. Talk to the people staffing the stands. Some may be wearing suits or brightly coloured branded tops, but they are all lovely and approachable people who are there to answer your questions and give you advice.
3. Depending on how you’re doing for time, try and get along to some of the seminars that are available.
Post-event - my final top 3 tips:
1. Have a good look through the information you collected at the event.
2. If you’ve got any further questions or need extra advice, get in touch with the provider.
3. Now’s a good time to get ahead of the game and book yourself on some open days to see the university and facilities available. NB: Back in 1999, most bookings would have been done via a series of phone calls. The advent of the internet has made registering for open days much easier!