The education fair is one of the best opportunities for current students and potential Masters applicants to discover their dream programme or to get a feel of other suitable study options. Meeting university representatives in person as well as peers who may have similar goals for their education or career is certainly worth your time.
In a recent Access Masters article, we offered some tips on how you can prepare and make the most of your attendance at study fairs. However, there are some additional advantages that perhaps you have not thought of yet.
Test prep consultations
Whether you are applying for a Bachelor’s or for a Masters programme, the application process is not easy. The application package needs to be ready on time and, often, it also needs to contain your score from admissions tests such as GMAT or GRE, especially if the programme has a business or management focus. Depending on the location and the language of instruction of your chosen school, you may also be required to submit proof of your English proficiency, with a TOEFL or IELTS test score, for example.
Fortunately, organisers of education events are well aware that test taking is a difficult stage for most applicants. In order to provide additional value to attendees, study fairs often invite expert consultants who can offer guidance regarding different aspects of the application. For instance, GMAT and language test consultants will have excellent knowledge of their niche and of the current competition in terms of test scores. They will filter out the most important details you need to know to begin your preparation and they will be able to assess your case individually.
Keep in mind that tests such as GMAT, IELTS, and TOEFL have a very specific structure. Even if you are confident in your knowledge of the English language, your test-taking skills will probably need some work as well. You will have to familiarise yourself with the sections of the test, the time limit you will have for each section, and some of the more tricky tasks and questions that could be included. In these cases, getting a few tips from a professional consultant can be extremely helpful.
Application and career workshops
If you are particularly interested in learning more about a specific topic and you think a meeting with an expert is not enough, check whether there are any workshops or classes open for attendance during the event. Some workshops cover GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS territory. Others may have a more long-term focus by offering career advice or tips for creating a strong CV/resume. Although you will be able to find an overwhelming amount of information online, workshops are a more personalised and practical way to gain that knowledge and learn how to apply it. As the international community website Expatica notes: “Presentations and workshops often provide additional information and advice about the exhibitors’ stands, personal development, how to be successful, how to write a successful CV, [...] and much more. It pays to look at these: you may be surprised and discover that you might not have ‘all areas covered’.”
Scholarships and funding advice
One of the pressing questions that concerns all Masters applicants is funding. How will you be able to pay for your studies? This is especially relevant if you are planning to start a programme abroad – an experience which usually requires a little more planning in terms of available budget.
Attending education fairs is a great first step in assessing your budget as well as the different options for financing your degree. Most importantly, the school representatives onsite will be able to give you detailed information regarding any scholarship opportunities you could apply for. Scholarships can be merit-based (meaning that if you have exceptionally high grades or a high admissions test score you could be exempted part of the tuition fees) or need-based (granted to students whose family income is lower than average). Some scholarships have special terms and can even be granted to students from particular countries or nationalities. Just make sure to explore the opportunities at each individual programme.
Of course, even those who are not eligible for a scholarship or an external grant will be able to get funding advice. For example, local consultants and school representatives will readily provide information about the average monthly budget of a student at a particular campus. It is important to be realistic about what you can afford and whether you will feel comfortable with the living and travel expenses that are an inevitable part of the whole “study abroad” package.
Games and lotteries
Last but not least, many events offer additional benefits for attendees in the form of lotteries or gifts. For instance, attending the Access Masters Open Fair gives you the chance to win a free campus visit to the university of your choice. As the University of Bath (UK) state on their website: “Open Days are the best way to explore the campus and experience university life before starting your studies. You can meet students and staff and ask any questions you have about your course, the accommodation, and the support we give our students.” Other lottery prizes could include a free IELTS, TOEFL, or GMAT preparation course, student vouchers, or even travel tickets and trips. Although the opportunity to win a prize will probably not be the main reason to visit an education fair, it is a fun aspect to look forward to.
Before rushing to the next study fair near you, take enough time to prepare and do some research on the participating schools and available study options. This will make the event truly useful for your individual needs and it will allow you to reap all the benefits mentioned above.