How to make the most of a UCAS convention

Rebecca Schrod

Rebecca, our School and College Liaison Officer explains how to make the most of your day at a UCAS Convention…

So, you’re thinking of attending a UCAS Convention. With hundreds of unis, gap year providers and employers in one place, they’re agreat way of helping you to figure out your next steps after leaving school or college. But all of this choice can also be a bit overwhelming – how do you make sure that you’ve visited every stand you need to?

With hundreds of options on offer, preparing before the event is a must – you’ll need to make sure that you don’t miss out on speaking to anyone that you want to!

A great way of figuring out who to speak to, is to have a think about what you’re looking for. Start with what subject (or subjects!) you’re considering studying. If you’re not sure what to study, have a look at iCould for examples of the kind of careers that different subjects can lead to. Once you’ve decided on your subject, you can start making a long list of potential universities – not all universities may
offer your course, so start off by doing a quick search on the UCAS website to give you an idea of who does. Once you have this list, you should also consider whether the entry requirements at these Unis match your predicted grades. To make sure that you’re looking at a wide range, put together 3 lists: one for unis that are a ‘reach’ – they’ll be a great option if you get better grades than expected, one for your ‘likely’ choice which will require the predicted grades you already have, and one ‘insurance’, requiring slightly lower grades that you can use as a back-up if things don’t go exactly to plan.

Next, think some more about what your dream Uni would be like – do you want to study close to home, or far away? Are you a city kind of person, or would you be happier in the countryside? Would you like to study at a big university, or somewhere smaller? Push has a great tool which searches for unis based on areas like these. Considering all of these questions as well as only selecting the Unis that offer your course will
hopefully have left you with a shortlist of stands to visit on the day.

Next up, prepare questions. It might sound obvious, but UCAS conventions are your opportunity to speak face to face with someone who knows that particular University inside out. Speaking to them is your chance to get the kind of inside knowledge that you might not necessarily find in their prospectus, or on their website. So ask as many questions as you like, and, remember, no question is a stupid question! Here are a few examples….

What are your entry requirements?
How is the course taught?
Is this a campus based or a city university?
How employable are your degrees?
What kind of jobs do graduates from this course go on to do?
What’s the social life like? Do you have a Student’s Union?
What scholarships and bursaries do you offer?
Do you have any Open Days coming up?

At the UCAS Convention
Grab a convention guide (or download one online in advance if you’re feeling super organised) and find out the locations of the universities you’ve shortlisted. Using this guide, which will include a map with locations of all of the stands, you’ll be able to navigate yourself to each of the stands you’re planning to visit!

Although you’ll have your shortlist, keep open an open mind!
As well as being a great chance to talk to unis you’re already considering, UCAS conventions are also a good way to find out about new places! If you walk past a stand that looks interesting, talk to them, even if they weren’t on your original list.

Write it down! It’s likely that you’ll be talking to a lot of different unis and getting a lot of information, so make notes as you go along to make sure that you don’t forget key bits of info, even if it’s just a couple of bullet points for each stand you visit.

Lastly, take as much information as possible. Pick up prospectuses, brochures, leaflets, bookmarks, anything! All of this information will inform your decision, and can be great resources for future, especially if you apply to that university and are invited to an interview.

Read through all of the information you’ve collected to further narrow down your list of options. The next step should be booking in visits to these unis – as this will give you even more in-depth information, and more of a sense of what it’s really like to study there. Visit their websites, or others like Open Days and Taster Days to book in visits, campus tours, Open Days and Taster Days.

Finally, don’t forget to visit the Pearson College London stand at UCAS to find out more information about our industry focused degrees in Business and the Creative Industries.

Find out what conventions we’ll be attending.