A teacher’s guide to UCAS fairs

We spoke to a leading UK college to get their tips on how teachers can help students best prepare for UCAS fairs. 

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Attending a UCAS fair is a great first step for students planning their education and future life. Think of a UCAS fair as a market place packed with choices, expert information and lots of freebies too. This is a chance for your students to get a good grasp on what university life is really like, discover courses they didn’t know existed and find out about places they might call home soon. 

As a teacher, if you can encourage your students to do some basic preparation and put a plan together for the day, they will get a lot more out of it. Central College, a leading college in the East Midlands, shares some top tips on what students can expect from a UCAS fair and how to spend their time wisely…

Research before the UCAS fair

Visit the UCAS website together and find the exhibition they will be attending. Print off the floor plan and help them start pinpointing the most relevant stalls they want to visit, rather than walking around aimlessly. Students might already have a good idea of the universities or cities they are interested in but if not, try and put together a handful – this will help with their decisions on the day.

They should make the most of every minute they have with a university rep, so put together a list of key questions to ask. Students should ask about the course, the facilities, the city as a whole and what special interest clubs (eg. sports) are on offer too. Some courses might offer the chance to study abroad or award another professional accreditation as well as a degree.

At the UCAS fair

Remind students to visit the list of key stands first – some exhibitions feature hundreds of stands – and to spend more time with their shortlisted universities. Make sure they take a notebook and write down as much as possible – this will help when they get home with “information overload”.

Remind students to visit other stalls not on the list too, they might find some surprises along the way. Ensure they plan on going to seminars and guest lectures, there will be some time for questions. Make sure students sign up to relevant mailing lists and newsletters as these will help later down the line too. 

They should make the most of every minute they have with a university rep, so put together a list of key questions to ask. Students should ask about the course, the facilities, the city as a whole and what special interest clubs (eg. sports) are on offer too.

After the UCAS fair

Hopefully, your students now have a better idea of the courses, universities and cities they are interested in and, just as importantly, what they are not interested in. Now is the time to do some following up. Together, take their shortlist and start considering each university a bit more.

Help students book an open day to get an insight into what student life is really like and check out student forums and social media pages for each university. You could also look at student publications like the Student Room and articles like the Best universities for getting a job, What universities do students rate the most? and The best UK cities for young people to get a rounded idea of what particular qualities different institutions have to offer.

Remember….

There are other options

Students shouldn’t feel under pressure to choose a university, it’s not for everyone. Many colleges now offer university-level courses like HND’s and Foundation degrees, there are even Degree Apprenticeships now, which offer degrees alongside paid work – with no tuition fees or student loan required.

It’s a balancing act

Studying at university isn’t 100% about the course. This will be their new home for at least three years, so it’s important students look for somewhere they will be happy and comfortable studying too.

Application advice

Putting together a UCAS application can be daunting but there’s loads of information out there, such as this UCAS deadline checklist, What to do if you miss the UCAS deadline, and How to go through UCAS Clearing.