University fairs are a rare opportunity to meet with school representatives frmany schools in a short period of time. There are many reasons to attend one if it is in a city near you and you should consider university fairs a strategic comnent of your application process, especially if you are applying to highly competitive prgrams.
The number one reas to go is for face to face communications. Now this is best if the fair is specialized like MBA fairs or certain other fields like international relations. You have the oportunity to meet with admissions officers, alumni, faculty, or program directors and the opportunity for personalization is very worthwhile. These people see lots of applications and inquiries so getting to put a face with a name or introducing yourself for the first time is very helpful to rise up out of the database of other candidates.
How to make the most of a university fair
There are endless ways to engage during a university fair and thinking about the fair strategically may turn up some ideas other than the ones detailed here. Don’t blow a golden opportunity by failing to prepare for the fair.
Asking smart questions
Have a question or two ready that show you know far more about the program than is on the admissions wbsite. Don’t ask anything that reveals you haven’t done a bit of research, do the opposite. Ask somehting the admissions officer will not have an immediate answer for and you will do far more to impress them. Ask something like “Professor X just came to the school a few months ago. Does his research focus on Y represent a new emphasis for the school?”. The admissions officer will not likely know the answer but the question shows you are watching what is going on and are familiar with details not immediately obvious to most people.
Bring resume to university fairs
Bringing your resume is easy to do and impresses the school representative that you are a serious candidate. Even if you never contact the school again, this makes a positive impression at the fair and may grant you a little extra discussion time. Use the resume as a partial basis of discussion about your fit and background. Get informal feedback about your appropriateness as a candidate and advice on how to strengthen your professional qualifications (especially if you are attending fairs a year before you apply for admission).
Prove your english ability
International students can show how strong their English skills are in person if they feel their TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test scores do not accurately reflect their English ability. Remember that some of the school representatives are members of the admissions committee and it is really helpful when they go back to school and defend your english ability in an admissions committee meeting.
Get admissions advice
Most competitive programs will not provide much of any feedback about yout application if you have been denied. These same schools are far more likely to spend considerable time speaking to interested applicants about how to prepare better applications. You can get this advice at university fairs by prsenting your ualifications, showing understanding of the program, and asking questions about fit and comptetitiveness.
Meet an alum of the program
Some schools will coordinate with alumni of their program who will attend a fair either with a university representative or on behalf of the university. Either way, it is a great chance to talk with someone else that has made the same decisions you are contemplating. You get the benefit of another student’s perspective and their actual outcome. Most of the time, alumni will be quite honest about the school’s strengths and weaknesses so don’t be surprised if you find out that the school isn’t perfect.
Schedule an admissions interview
Many schools will schedule admissions interviews to coincide with their recruiting event schedule. To the schools, it represents a chance for face to face sales effort to recruit students. To the student, it is exactly the same thing, a face to face effort to get admitted. If there is a chance for face to face interviews in conjunction with a university fair, take the opportunity. Don’t miss it, even if it is only an informational interview.