Dear Estelle. The college fairs are coming mid-October and my school counselor recommended that I attend (again). Last year I went and found the whole scene totally confusing. Not eager to repeat that disaster, my friends and I are seeking your advice on how to benefit the most from the event.
Steve, Denver Academy
College fairs provide an exciting opportunity to talk to people in the know. Admissions representatives from a variety of colleges are available in one place to field your questions about their schools. But it’s easy to get sidetracked and overwhelmed! To make the most of a college fair requires planning your strategy before you enter the room. Here are some tips to assist you:
- Make a plan. Identify the colleges you want to visit and make a short list of questions for the admissions representatives. Plan to ask the same questions at each table. When you get home, compare the answers with your personal college requirements.
- Be Prepared. Map out your strategy in advance. Bring a small notebook with your list of colleges and questions. Bring a pen and pick up a program at the entrance. Print up a few sheets of self-stick address labels with your name, address, phone and email numbers, high school, year of graduation, intended majors and extracurricular activities you’re interested in. At the fair, you can place the labels on the college information cards and save yourself a lot of time.
Check the information schedule when you enter the fair. There are many important sessions, like financial aid, led by experts that might be important to you or your family. Using the map, locate the schools you want to visit and go there first. Mark down your impressions in your notebook while the information is fresh in your mind.
Bring your parents with you. They may have questions for the reps or wish to attend several seminars.
- Leave time for browsing. Visit your list of schools first but then leave time for other schools that might turn out to be “jewels.”
- Follow Up. After the fair you might be on overload from all the material you’ve gathered but wait a few days, then review your notes and brochures. Do the same schools still seem right to you? Prioritize and review.