Updated: Jun 17
Engage in a virtual university search.
Text: Skyler Bentley Hall
Virtual events have taken the world by storm, making the Higher Education search more feasible and accessible for families worldwide. Before the pandemic, hundreds of universities participated in high school fairs, offering a one-stop-shop experience for eager students to dream about further studies. Fast forward to 2021, and online platforms are the new norm for recruitment - the upside - students can participate in college fairs and open days from anywhere in the world, at any time of year. Online learning fatigue may be a reality for rising seniors, but there is no time like the present to seize the moment and take advantage of a more personalised university search.
"The future depends on what you do today." - Mahatma Gandhi
The five R’s
Students are bound to feel anxious when exploring so many unknowns, but why not have fun with this new chapter? Interact with university reps, engage with student ambassadors, and learn more about unique subject offerings. Make this experience an enjoyable family activity and discover hidden gems. Here are a few tips to get started:
There is no magic formula. Narrowing the university search should be thoughtful, personalised and research-driven. Remember, this is a two-way street, students may be searching for that perfect fit, but the institution is also seeking to recruit ideal candidates that can add value to their community. So what can you contribute to academic and student life?
Be inquisitive, focus on what is important to you, and customise the search with direct and relevant questions. Universities will want to see that students have done their research by demonstrating a mature, curious and proactive approach. Ask admissions what makes their school unique and what kind of a student will thrive at the university.
Embrace the unknown, explore the possibilities, and be open to new pathways. Make a plan to achieve your goals - whether you are keen to study abroad for a semester, add on a work placement, or feel passionate about a student organisation to enhance your learning. No one size fits all, so consider making choices to match your interests.
Students may feel saturated with all the info after attending multiple events. Instead, create a spreadsheet or use a journal to record important facts. Expect to feel overwhelmed at times but take extensive notes, so it is easier to reference and modify your interests.
My IBDP students would cringe when asked to ‘reflect’ for the umpteenth time, but the primary goal is to narrow their search with confidence. First, find a system that works for you by colour coding, ordering choices, and identifying the pros and cons. Then, reflect on what you want for the next three or four years, and make a realistic plan to achieve this.
If you are ready to explore the possibilities, here are a few organisations and events to consider:
"College fairs, whether online or in-person, are a fantastic way to enhance your college search. Speaking directly with university reps gives you an indispensable chance to get a feel for the institution and ask specific questions. My tips are: 1) attend fairs organised by neutral, non-commercial fair organisers who offer high-quality events with a broad base of exhibiting colleges and 2) be prepared: do your research and get your questions ready before the fairs for maximum effect." - Flor Fernandez Kiuppis, Assistant Director, CollegeCouncil