What is a Virtual Study Fair and Why Attend One?
- Student Tips
While the virtual study fairs existed long before the pandemic, they have recently increased in popularity and proved to be a worthwhile alternative to physical events. The primary advantage of an online study fair is that students and university staff can participate from home, which, on its own, makes the event more accessible. The online format not only eliminates the need for travel but also allows students from anywhere in the world to join in, making the connection between international students and institutions much simpler.
For many, it also reduces the mental barrier of talking to institutions. As has been said of online learning in general, many people find virtual interaction has led to democratization in higher education, which in this instance can mean talented prospective students from less privileged backgrounds who may be intimated to go to campuses of leading schools physically, feel more free and comfortable to do so at virtual study fairs.
Why do you need to attend it?
A typical online education fair will have a special program and platform designed to provide potential students with all the information they need to decide whether that university or universities at the fair are the right fit for them. This often includes Q&A sessions with current students and faculty, video presentations of the university's programs, and one-on-one chatting sessions with university representatives. But there are many more benefits to attending a virtual education fair...
By hosting a virtual study fair, universities make it possible for students from any corner of the world to attend the event with the click of a button. If you have access to the internet, you can access the event from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and enjoy the complete program from wherever you are.
Virtual education fairs are designed to connect schools and prospective students, but the networking opportunities in these events go far beyond that. When participating in a study fair, you will get to chat with recruitment specialists, career advisors, faculty, and alumni, as well as other attendees. These conversations are a great chance to get expert career advice and connect with other people in the academic world who share your interests.
No need to travel
It's common for students to take trips to different states when visiting study fairs and open days in their own country -- it is, after all, the best way to get a feel of the campus and know if it's right for you. But, with the option to attend these events online, students and families can save up by not having to travel across the country to participate in the fairs. And also there are many virtual campus tours students can take instead or as well as physical campus tours. And for international students, the advantage is even greater. For most, traveling overseas to visit a university before applying is not really feasible. Being able to enjoy the full program of the events from their own home allows international students to make a much more informed decision regarding their study abroad future.
Online study fairs commonly use video conferencing software to provide attendees the opportunity to watch and participate in lectures, meetings, and Q&As with university representatives, faculty, and other students. Many events use Zoom, or similar services, to give students a chance to join in and chat with lecturers during the presentations, allowing them to ask any questions they may have about the university programs, the application process, and any other matter related to life in the university.
Everything under one roof
Another great benefit of the virtual fairs is that students don't participate only in university-specific events. Many organizations work in partnership with institutes from around the world and host joint education fairs -- events that feature dozens, or even hundreds, of exhibitors. Such events broaden the scope of institutions students can connect with, speaking with representatives from various universities in a single day from the comfort of their own home and getting to know more about their options before deciding which institute to attend.
Programs for all levels
Besides showcasing a wide variety of undergraduate programs, some universities and organizations also use the virtual education fairs as an opportunity to promote their postgraduate and PhD programs. Graduates who want to pursue a master's degree or a PhD also have a chance to visit several virtual booths and chat with representatives from their favorite universities about the degrees offered, asking questions about the programs and figuring out which institution will be the perfect place to develop their research.
How to make the most of it
A virtual education fair will be full of events to attend, but it's essential to do your research and come prepared to take full advantage of what it has to offer. Attending a study fair without clear goals can leave you lost, not knowing what conferences to watch or who to talk to. Before the day of the event, look into what universities will be participating and what programs they offer. Choose the ones that interest you and focus on acquiring valuable information on them during the event.
In most events, you have to sign up for the sessions you want to participate in, so knowing what you want is indispensable. Think about what you need to know to make your decision and write down any questions you still have after reading the institution's website. Coming with pre-prepared questions will help you with a more direct approach when talking to school representatives.
After the fair, don't forget to follow up with your favorite universities to keep up with program updates, application deadlines, scholarships and funding opportunities, visa requirements, housing options, new events, and much more information that will keep you connected with the institution of your choosing. You can also exchange e-mails and contact information with other students, alumni, and recruiters and start expanding your network before even applying to your chosen school. So what are you waiting for?
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Thaís graduated with a degree in Language and Literature and is now pursuing her master's while working as an English teacher and freelance writer. She lives in an inland city in São Paulo, Brazil, and enjoys binge-watching TV, game nights with her friends, and learning how to play any musical instrument within reach
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