How to Get the Most Out of College Fairs
Before the Fair
- Find out which schools will be at which fair: It will to your advantage to find out and make a list of which schools will be at the fair before attending. Because many students already have a general idea of which colleges they are interested in by the time college fair season rolls by, knowing exactly which schools will be present at the fair will allow you to decide which fairs you will want to attend. Although you generally want to first attend the fairs that will feature the some of the schools you are interested in, it never hurts to attend college fairs that feature colleges you are unfamiliar with. Keep your mind open and try to attend as many fairs as possible. You never know which schools you may end up find appealing.
Research: Do a little homework before each college fair. You may want to do some research on the different schools that will be present at the college fair you will be attending. Go to the individual school’s homepage and browse around. Look to see if the schools have the specific things you value and are looking for in a college or university (i.e. location, school size, class size, campus life, etc.) . Jot down any unanswered questions you may have after looking through each schools homepage. This is a great thing to do before the college fair because it will help you make the most of your time with the college representatives at the college fair. Many students who neglect to do their research before the college fair often waste the valuable time they have will college representatives by asking trivial questions that college representatives give brief answers to before suggesting that they visit their schools website for more information. Doing your research before hand will allow you to ask personally meaningful questions which will help you pick which schools to apply to.
During the Fair
- Get there early: Be early or on time to the college fair. There are often only one to two college representatives from each school–less than the amount of students that will be interested and asking questions. Getting there on time will help you maximize your time with the different college representatives.
- Navigation: College fairs can be chaotic and overwhelming at times. With so many schools bunched up in one place, students often cannot decide which table to go first. Review your list of schools and questions and go to the schools that interest your the most because the schools that interest you the most are often the schools you have the most questions about. After visiting the schools that you are most interested about, you may want to walk in a circle and go through the rest of the tables (most college fairs set the tables up in a circle). Do these however you like, but please try to visit every table and speak with a representative. You may want to plan out a route to avoid backtracking and wasting time.
- Ask Away: Do not be afraid to whip out your notepad and ask about the your unanswered questions from your research. There is no such thing as a dumb question.
- Write it down: Because there are so many different schools at a college fair and each school is so different it is important to write down what you have learned after visiting each college’s table and speaking with each colleges representatives. Take the time to write down the answers to your questions or anything else important because you may end up suffering from information overload after visiting all the tables at the end of the fair.
- Business Cards: If a college representative offers you a business card, take it. Try to get a business card from all the school representatives at the fair–you never know if your interests will change later. If you are not offered one, ask for one. this is because many of the college representatives at college fairs have some sort of connection with admissions. This means they know the admissions process for their individual schools very thoroughly, can tell you what type of person their school is looking for, etc. And the bonus is that you will be able to contact him/her if you have any future questions. Networking and making a connection with a representative can be very lucrative.
After the Fair
- Weed Out the Colleges that Don’t Interest You: Separate the brochures and business cards of the colleges that interest you from the colleges that do not interest you. You want to weed out the ones that you are not even considering applying to so you can do further research on the ones that you are certain you want to apply to and decide between the colleges that you are considering applying to.
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