Student fairs are a very accessible way to reach out to the schools you are interesting in applying to and also gather precious information and contacts that may turn out to be helpful in more than one way – including your dissertation. Like many things in student and professional life though, visiting a student fair requires a bit of upstream preparation in order to turn it into a successful adventure.
Today we would like to share with you 5 useful tips that will help you make the most out of your student fair:
1 – Location, location
Let’s start with some essential geographical and chronological planning: organize your trip to the fair and schedule ahead to make sure you have a full day to dedicate to your school search. Should the fair be held far away, you may want to contemplate car sharing, booking your train tickets in advance, etc.
While you are at it, it would be advisable to check the list of participants and try as much as possible to select the schools you would like to approach. This will help you schedule your day efficiently and put your energy to good use.
2 – Team up!
It might be a good idea to team up with a friend sharing your same interests and motivation. You can prepare the fair visit together, share your impressions, exchange questions and answers, and debrief at the end of the fair (and see point #5 below).
3 – Prepare tools of the trade and questions
Let’s get practical here for a minute: bring along a bottle of water, some snacks (this might help you avoid the über long line at the local snack bar or take away), your phone (make sure you have a full battery for the day, or take the juice pack with you too), your agenda, a couple of pens, and a notebook.
Inevitably, some questions will come to you as you exchange with the schools’ representatives and students at the school booth. Still, we would advise you to prepare a list of questions you really would like to see answered:
What is the timeline for the application/enrollment process?
What are the required documents?
Is there a financial plan?
What accreditations does the school have?
These are just a few suggestions to get your ideas flowing…
4 – Write those visit days down in your agenda
Schools usually plan visit days to allow prospective students and families to visit their premises. The rules vary enormously from one country to the other, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the common practice in your country (does the school have a campus, can you visit classes, can you attend classes on the visit day…).
Make sure you have your agenda (see point #3) or phone calendar, favorite app, etc. at hand and write down the visit days planned at the schools you are interested in seeing. Back home, you will be able to go through them, make your choices, plan head (again) to make sure you get a 360° picture of the school, and the student life it offers.
5 – Cross-investigate
Time to wear your Sherlock Holmes hat and cross-check the information gathered during the fair. To do so: exchange with your partner in crime mentioned in point #2 and spot any inconsistencies or holes in information that call for your attention.
This is also a good time to make all your social media networks do some of the work for you: join groups, follow the schools’ Twitter accounts, subscribe to those RSS feeds, contact alumni associations via LinkedIn, etc. The list is endless, really, in the age of social transparency and open exchange. Take advantage of it!
Have you participated in a school fair recently? Do you have additional tips you would like to share with us?