One of the best things you can do when you’re considering studying abroad is to visit a study fair. If you have attended one before, you will have already realised the value of such an event, but if you are visiting for the first time, read on to see what a study fair is, why they can be valuable and what happens there.
What is an International Study Fair?
Study fairs are an invaluable tool for talking to university, school or college representatives face-to-face and then making your study decisions. They provide the perfect setting for you to find out more about your course, about the best places for you to study and how best to utilise your qualifications and experience to ensure the best possible future for yourself.
They are typically held in a hall, sometimes in a hotel, sometimes a convention centre. Inside the hall will be a collection of booths and stands, within each of which will be stood a person or two; representatives of schools, universities, education agencies, national governments or other organisations who can offer help and advice on studying or the study abroad process.
Study fairs take place all over the country and throughout the year. You will find that most of them either occur around September to November or March to April, as that aligns them with general application and funding deadlines.
Why are International Study Fairs good?
Studying abroad, whether it be an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, a PhD, or even a short course is an opportunity few people get; a means of exploring the world while simultaneously improving oneself and future employment prospects.
Choosing to study internationally is a big step, but that’s why events like the Global Education Fairs exist, to aid those looking to improve their education and future prospects.
Many students realise that employers value international experience, while of course the value of seeing the world, exploring oneself and becoming enveloped in a new culture or language cannot be understated.
So many students take the straightforward option and remain close to home without looking further to the future and do not see the personal value in studying abroad.
Your choice will be decided by a myriad of factors: your interests, your family and your financial opportunity. Representatives at the fair can help a lot with these, if you are having problems with them. Or even if you are undecided about whether to study abroad at all, they are there to offer general advice on how it can be beneficial for you.
No one expects you to sign the next portion of your life away on the spot at these fairs, by the way. These are chances to explore possibilities and dream of what may come next. The representatives will be on hand to give you information and help you apply if that is what you are committed to. There are also options to apply through agents, but for now, just imagine the possibilities and the potential you could be fulfilling by taking this brave, bold step.
How to prepare for the International Study Fair
Has your interest been suitably piqued? Despite the tumult and delight that follows from deciding to move and study overseas, there are still moments of calm for you to broadly take in your options.
Firstly, you will want to find out the institutions that will be attending the fair- it’s typically listed on the fair website. Of course, students are inevitably drawn to the big recognisable schools, but even if you don’t recognise all the institutions’ names then you should still consider visiting.
Colleges want to admit students that are eager and genuinely interested in joining for the right reasons. Wanting your resume to have a certain name on it or wanting to boast to friends about where you go to school are not good reasons.
It is important to retain an open mind when visiting an international school fair then- schools can offer all sorts of facilities, time and opportunities for you that you may not have been expecting. Of course, no one is expecting you to throw your dream college away right in the heat of the moment. You should simply use this time to consider other options while you still have the chance. Who knows? You may even find someplace better than you originally thought.
You should also remember to keep an open mind about your course options. Previous qualifications or work experience does not limit you to a specific field and in fact previous work in one subject may mean that you have the exact skills and qualities necessary for studies in a different discipline.
Next, you will want to check if there will be any seminars at the fair. The colleges and schools present will usually give talks about specific elements of studying abroad and will take questions. Each seminar will be full of valuable information, but they will run throughout the day. It is a good idea to check out beforehand which talks will be given and plan your day around the ones you want to see the most.
Then you will want to draw up a list of questions to ask each representative. There are examples of lists across the internet, but you should broadly be asking about (with examples):
- In which countries are your degrees or certifications accepted?
- What languages are your courses available in?
- How many people are on the course?
- What aspects does the university look for in an application?
- Do you have any advice for how a student can improve their application?
- When should a student begin/submit their application?
- What careers have previous international graduates gone on to?
- What are the employment rates for international students/graduates?
- Can a student work while studying?
- Are students guaranteed on-campus accommodation?
- How much does it cost?
- Do you have any recommendations for areas around the university to stay in?
- What is the recommended budget for an international student per year?
- How much do you recommend saving before leaving?
- Are there any bursaries or scholarships available?
Facilities, groups, societies
- What facilities does your university have?
- Are any of them open 24 hours?
- What sports and societies are available?
What to do at the International Study Fair
There will be lots of universities, schools, groups and more at the fair, so seek out those that are of the most interest to you, and go through the questions you’ve prepared for them and anything else that comes to mind that you are unsure of, or will help you choose the place you want to go and study.
It’s also valuable to talk to other students at the fairs. You are all in the hall for the same reason, and some others may have already studied abroad. Everyone is there to find out more about the experience of studying abroad, so don’t be afraid, and politely ask the others their opinions about particular countries or institutions.
The representatives are likely to give you further information, like prospectuses or contact cards, but if they forget, just ask for the phone number or email address, so you can contact them after the fair. They will be happy to help! They can also give you the contact details of the teachers and professors at the university, for some more specific questions they may not have the answers for.
But that’s what the representatives are there to help you with! Ask their opinion- they have lots of experience helping people get to where they need to be.
If you have made your decision about where to study when at the fair, the opportunity to finalise elements of your application should also be available!
After the International Study Fair
Ideally, with the information obtained at the fair, you will have chosen where you will next study. If not, you will hopefully have gotten enough info to work towards completing your application when you get back home.
This is where contact with the representative may come in handiest, as if you ever get stuck or need help with the application, they can support you through the process.
If you are yet to make your decision, then don’t fret. Student fairs are just one tool designed to help you find your ideal institution, At least you will have a better idea of the process around studying abroad now, so continue your search and be on the lookout for more upcoming student fairs!