UCAS Fairs are the starting block of the university application process. They might seem intimidating, sizeable and unnerving. And the truth is... they are to a certain extent, but following these tips will help you cope.

It is likely that at some point in your A level experience, you will attend one of these events. Hundreds of universities from across the country flock in and set up a stand to inform you about what they do, courses they offer, university life and if you would be a good fit for their university. The truth is, as amazing as you may be, you aren’t going to be a good fit for every university. This could be due to course, campus or location: it needs to be right for both the prospective student and the institution. So planning is key...

There are huge advantages in attending these events and one of them is all the free pens! Plus...

  • The opportunity to speak to a lot of universities in a short space of time.
  • The chance to ask questions that can aid decisions about open days to go to.
  • The ability to collect prospectuses for various courses.
  • You could request further information from individuals who know what they’re talking about; so leave your email address or other details to request further information.

Consider a UCAS Fair as the commencement of your primary university research. However, the key is preparation:

  • Research universities you might be interested in beforehand
  • Have an idea of 2-3 courses you might want to study (names vary between universities)
  • Bring a pen and paper to make notes – do not rely on memory
  • Pick up a map

This way, you can navigate your way around the maze of universities, stop at the stands that you’re interested in, ask about the courses and make notes… Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it?

Let’s break it down, the idea when you’re at the fair is to ensure you absorb as much information as possible. So, what do you need to know?

  • Go to your favourite options first, ensuring you collect a prospectus of the courses you are interested in and find out as much relevant information as possible.
  • Ask questions that aren’t available on the website, such as:
    • accommodation preferences and average duration of stay
    • nightlife and social activities (student union, societies to join)
    • distance to the town centre or local restaurants sporting clubs, facilities and activities
    • what makes it different to other universities
    • transport links nearby
  • When you find a course that you are interested in, leave your details so that they can send you information in the future about the UCAS application process, specific activities, and exciting things you could be a part of if you join.
  • Have an open mind: the university staff at the fair know their stuff and they may suggest you take more than one prospectus for other courses that they offer that might be suited to you. Take as much information as you can!

You have survived a UCAS Fair, absorbed as much information as possible and got a few free pens as a bonus... so what happens next?

  • Go home and read through the prospectuses you have collected.
  • Pick 5 or more interesting courses and note them down – preferably from different universities.
  • Go onto the websites of these universities and have a look at factors such as accommodation, student life and location if you don’t already know from your discussions.
  • Discuss your findings of the day with a parent or guardian and share your preferences with them.

By doing any one of these four steps, you will be in a much better position when it comes to completing your online application, reviewing your offers and making your firm choice.