Make the Most of Your College Fairs
Fall and spring can be ideal times for high school students, especially juniors and seniors, to visit regional college fairs. College admissions offices send representatives (usually admissions officers or alumni) to staff information tables and meet with prospective students. While it can be easy to find some information about colleges from websites and catalogs, having a face-to-face conversation with a university representative can help narrow down a student’s college list.
The Laurel Springs School Counseling department recommends these tactics to have a productive college fair experience:
- Plan. Research the college fair in advance to find out which colleges will be represented at the event, noting the ones that interest you. Write down questions that you want to ask representatives from each college. (Check out this list to help you brainstorm.) Print out labels with your contact information on them to use at the fair; it will save you a lot of time to stick a pre-printed label on a mailing list, as opposed to handwriting your address multiple times.
- Map out your route. As soon as you arrive at the college fair, get a map of the event, and highlight the colleges that interest you most. Plan a route for yourself that targets these colleges first; you can choose to visit other tables later if you have time.
- Make connections. When you visit each table, introduce yourself to the college’s representative and ask your questions. Request a business card from the college’s representative so that you can stay in touch.
- Take notes. After you leave each booth, jot down your impressions about the college, as well as the answers to your questions. Check to see if there are any workshops you would like to attend, such as seminars about financial aid, and take notes about points to remember.
- Follow up at home. In the days following the college fair, review your notes from the event. Review your findings with your family to determine if you should eliminate or add any colleges from your list. Send thank-you emails to college representatives, asking additional questions if necessary. Decide if you would like to visit the campuses of a few of the colleges that interest you the most.
Meeting with college representatives in person can be a valuable addition to your college application process. Using this strategy, your college fair experience can enrich your understanding of colleges beyond what is printed in brochures or posted on university websites.
For a lighter take on the subject, read our blog post about appropriate attire for college fairs, and check out our Pinterest board: What Not To Wear to college fairs. Remember that while you want to leave a lasting impression with college representatives, you want it to be a positive impression.