Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Benefits of Education Fairs

I've always liked the idea of education fairs even though I've not had the opportunity to attend one in the recent past. Since someone asked me to plug an upcoming education fair for postgrads (more on this later), I thought that I'd sit down and write a few words on why I think education fairs are a good thing, on the whole.

1) Education fairs are "free", at least for the attendees who are looking to find out more about the schools and programs which they are interested in. The people who foot the bill are the organizers of these fairs and the exhibitors who participate in them. This is only fair since the organizers profit from putting these fairs together and the exhibitors profit for marketing their courses to their potential 'clients' i.e. the students and parents who make up most of the attendees.

2) Education fairs are a one stop shop to gather the necessary information on the courses and schools which one is interested in. Of course, a lot of this information should be available on line but there's nothing like the process of being able to compared the different course offerings between the different schools in an education fair. Furthermore, students who have questions about specific details which are not available online can use this opportunity to ask the marketing reps from each school. If the marketing reps cannot answer these questions, they should be able to point the student to someone within that organization who CAN answer those questions.

One also needs to remember that not all kids have internet access at home or in schools and hence the ability to do the necessary online research to find out more about these course, especially kids from rural areas and from less fortunate backgrounds. These education fairs are a great opportunity for them to find out more about different schools and programs.

3) Education fairs are not only useful for potential students but also for the parents of these students. I know that sometimes parents can be overbearing and some even try to dictate the course which their kid or kids should take. Nonetheless, if parents and their kids have a good understanding in terms of expectations on both sides, education fairs can be very helpful venues where parents as well as their children find out more about the courses of interest.

4) Education fairs are also a good venue for students and parents to find out more about schools and colleges which they would otherwise not know about. Most students and parents are aware of the 'big names' like Sunway and HELP and INTI and so on but there may be smaller schools which offer programs that are more suitable for certain students or be more affordable to some students. Of course, one needs to do the proper due diligence when looking at some of the smaller schools but I won't prejudge small and not so well known schools because some of them may actually have very dedicated lecturers in certain niche fields.

5) Education fairs should also be a place where students get to interact with former alumni and current students of some of these schools. Ideally, the exhibitors should not only send out marketing people to 'man' their booths but also include former and current students in their marketing strategy. After all, who better to give first hand information to potential students than former and current students? I particularly like what Chen Chow and his team have done in the past to promote US universities by encouraging former and current students to 'man' the exhibition booths representing their respective universities.

In light of these benefits of education fairs, I'd like to draw attention to an upcoming post-grad education fair that I was asked to plug. Most of us are aware of undergraduate fairs but fewer of us are aware of postgraduate or graduate education fairs. I was made aware that there was such a fair that took place in January of this year at the Mid Valley Exhibition Center and that there will be such a fair taking place again in September 2009. This event is organized by AIC, an exhibition and events organizer in Malaysia and for the January event, it was co-located with jobstreet.com, one of the leading job search sites in South East Asia.

I think this is a good time for potential students to think about postgraduate / graduate education in Malaysia as well as overseas. Some people may want to take a break from work, some people may want to take advantage of the fact that the economy is slowing to do a postgrad / grad degree, some people may want to increase their expertise in certain fields of study etc...

It's probably a good time for universities, both local and overseas, to recruit potential students as well given the current economic conditions as well as some of the recent financial incentives for students to further their education in a local public institution.

Of course, students and parents should attend these fairs with their eyes wide open and do as much background research as possible before attending these fairs. It will make the experience a much more beneficial one.

P.S. Just to reiterate again, none of us (Tony, John or myself) receive any 'benefits' in return for promoting these education fairs.


Anonymous said...

Why dont you comment if there are really any difference in quality in the 2+1 degree by foreign university compared to same degree offered by the mother campus in their homeland?

Japheth Lim Gene-Harn said...

totally agree with KM, edu fairs are much more better than going open days in certain private college, people cannot just simply sweet talk around edu fair because facts are always being monitored by other tertiary education booths, or perhaps the booth besides it?
But one thing i realise is that... edufair.. why is it so few local universities? there is like main ones la... upm um usm.. others hardly seen.

James said...

local u have their own ed fairs which are conducted by the Ministry. I am happy with the edu fair, my cousin and I now know what we are going to pursue - what and where.. before I did not know...