The study abroad fair is an integral component of the Study Abroad Office’s year-round efforts to connect students with programs. Held usually early in the fall semester, this event allows newcomers to connect with programs before becoming overwhelmed with course load or spring internship requirements. Furthermore, this event can be planned ahead of program or scholarship application deadlines.
Students attend the study abroad fair with different objectives in mind. While some may have narrowed down their choices and started considering their options, others are just getting started in exploring them. Representatives know they typically only have students’ attention for short amounts of time at these events and prefer spending most of their time building relationships rather than explaining an institution’s academic or financial processes. Furthermore, students often appreciate hearing directly from alumni of programs who are currently studying or recently returned from abroad.
Program representatives should emphasize the accomplishments and benefits of their program as well as how well it fits with a student’s academic and career goals. A clear and concise brochure detailing cost, academic credit options, destination map information, photos from past participants in the field as well as application instructions should be created and distributed to potential participants. Adding a monitor that runs videos or pictures about the program may also engage potential attendees effectively.
Planning an effective fair requires meticulous organization – from logistics and notifying IEOs, to developing networking opportunities. Engaging campus partners (such as Registrar, Academic Advising, Financial Aid or Career Services) in this process helps increase awareness about education abroad while serving as an additional resource when referring students who may require further information about specific programs or destinations.