Want to Streamline Your College Admissions Process? Start with Your Local College Fair

 

As helpful as it is to research online and browse college websites, nothing beats speaking face to face with a college representative. College fairs are a great way to get to know different colleges and start to understand what you prioritize in a school. Through a conversation with one college rep, you might learn about study abroad options, and later find yourself adding that to your list of requirements. Or, a rep could tell you about their unique internship program, leading you to look for similar internship programs at other schools. Every interaction is a chance for you to learn more about what you like and don’t like in a school.

Below, find out how to make the most of college fairs.  

BEFOREHAND

Do Your Research

Find out what colleges will be present at the fair. As you’re skimming through the list, jot down the colleges that stand out to you. Then, prior to the fair, go to each college’s website. Look around at their academic programs, student life, and admissions requirements. If any questions pop up while you’re learning about the college, write those questions down.

AT THE FAIR

What to Bring

  • Notebook & pen - especially if this is your junior or senior year. You’re going to want to keep track of the key bits of information that you gather.

  • List of target schools - sometimes fairs have an overwhelming amount of schools. Reduce your stress by going in with a plan!

What to do During the Fair

You’re going to be tempted to stop by every table, but you’ll end up with dozens of brochures that you’ll probably never look at. Focus on your target schools as much as you can. At the same time, keep an open mind. Sometimes a photo or a welcoming college representative draws you in, follow your gut instinct - it could be your future school!   

Be sure to be positive and communicate professionally. Sure, it’s not a college interview, but you are giving your first impression to the college. Some college reps might make a note of your conversation on their inquiry cards, so you never want to be rude or say something you regret later. Be kind and open to learning.

What questions to ask colleges

  • If you know what you want to study, start out by asking if the college has the program you’d like to pursue. Find out what the most popular programs, too.

  • Ask about the average class size to get an idea of what your experience would be.  

  • Ask about student life. What draws most students to the school? What are students’ favorite part about student life?

  • What kind of financial aid packages does the school provide?

What not to do

  • Sign up for colleges you know you have no interest in applying for

  • Spend the whole fair at one or two tables

Photo by  Victoria Heath  on  Unsplash

AFTER THE FAIR

If you let all of your collected brochures and business cards sit in a bag for a month, you’ll probably forget what you liked or didn't like about the school. Within a week of the fair, you’re going to want to take out the brochures, recycle the ones you’re not interested in, and really look through to see which colleges resonate with you. If you have business cards of the admissions counselor you spoke with, reach out via email. Tell them what you liked about the college and thank them for their time at the fair. Build relationships as a way to demonstrate your interest in the college and learn about whether it’s the right fit for you or not.