Entering an online education fair isn’t exactly like walking into a physical education fair, but it is pretty darn close.
For a few hours, hundreds of potential students will be chatting with international universities, colleges and government organizations, getting advice on what it takes to study abroad.
Finding the perfect study destination is not an easy task, but during online fairs such as Talk Global Study, universities, colleges and schools from all over the world are represented and you are free to gather information, consider your options and perhaps even begin the application process.
What could be more exciting?
You will have woken up this morning without a destination, but by the end of the day you could have begun your journey to the United States, New Zealand, Japan, or wherever you think would suit you best.
But is that the best way to approach it? Among the clamour and excitement it can be easy to get carried away, or to spend your time talking to admission representatives but not get the answers that you truly need.
With so many institutions available to speak with, there’s a danger that you only really end up with a surface level understanding of many of them, rather than a preferred deeper understanding of the few that truly interest you. Making the most out of an online study fair means having a plan prepared before you (virtually) walk through those doors.
Spaces for events such as these can often be limited so that everyone who is available has a smooth a time as possible - there would be nothing worse than having too many people join if the platform isn’t able to accommodate everyone.
So make sure you apply and complete your registration as soon as you are able to.
Keep track of your email too, as you’ll be sent some really important details on how best to make use of your time during the fair.
Do Your Research
The first thing you should consider before joining an online study fair is the list of participants and in particular, which of them interests you the most.
Consider the fair like a buffet - there is lots on offer, but it isn’t necessarily wise to try and eat everything. Take a look at what is available then narrow down the list to your favourites. You can typically find lists of participating institutions on the fair website.
Of those that most interest you, it may also be worthwhile to visit the websites of those institutions for a little more information on courses, application details and language and exam requirements.
Prepare Some Questions
While researching, consider writing up a brief list of questions to ask. By asking differing schools similar questions, you will get a far better understanding of each’s benefits.
For example, rather than ask questions about class size, instead ask what the most popular courses are. In this way, you can see which courses that institution is strongest at. Avoid asking something like “How good is this course?”, since college representatives will always paint a positive picture of the courses they provide. Instead ask about the forms of research a course can provide, or what the focus of the course would be.
If you are undecided about which degree or subject you would like to take, you can ask about the services and support an institution is able to supply, or if there are options to defer choosing a major course - it’s not uncommon for students to take classes in several subjects at first, for example, or switch degrees some time into a course.
You can also ask about extracurricular activities, the type of student that the college is looking for, how many students receive financial aid, or any other concerns you may have.
Have the Right Device
During online study fairs such as Talk Global Study, you can chat with representatives via text, video or audio. Before joining the fair, consider whether your device is appropriate for use. No matter whether you use a phone, a laptop, a home computer, or something else entirely, do you have a camera available? If it is going to be noisy around you, do you need headphones to hear properly? Do your headphones have a microphone or do you need a separate one?
Perhaps most importantly, how is your internet reception? It can be frustrating for everyone involved if you keep cutting out, so make sure you are in a place with a reliable connection.
Preparing for the Day
There may be timed events during the fair, like seminars or information sessions. Typically, these sessions will run throughout the day, with each one focussing on a different study topic, like the research process, applications, financial aid or visas. So double check the timings of these so you make sure you don’t miss out.
As well as understanding who will be present and having some questions ready for them, it is good to have some material you can jot some notes in while you are talking during the fair. Of course you will have your phone/computer, but it might be worthwhile having a pen and paper handy just in case.
Your note keeping tools are also good for jotting down your impressions of the schools. After you’ve spoken to the representative, make a note of the answers you were given and how you generally feel about it. It’s best to make note of these before speaking to other representatives, while the ideas are still fresh in your head.
After the Fair is Over
After the fair, you may feel a little tired from chatting to people for most of the day. That’s perfectly normal, but over the following days, you should read through the notes you made as well as the details of those places that particularly interested you.
With hindsight and a fresh perspective, you can revisit your thoughts and see what truly fascinates you. Perhaps you have thought of some new questions that you would like answered. If you realise now that you would like to know more, you can continue the process by contacting either the institution or sometimes the representative at the fair - often they will give you their contact details.
No matter what decision you decide to make, taking the time and effort to join an online fair and see what is available for you is worthwhile and can improve the quality of the education you desire.
So if you would like to move forward with your education, register now for Talk Global Study.