How to Prepare for a College Fair
College fairs are a great opportunity to meet with representatives of many colleges all at once. But, you will get more benefit from a college fair if you do a little advance preparation. These tips will help you prepare before the fair and make the most of your college fair experience.
Create a list of colleges of interest to you. Most college fairs post a list of participating colleges. Write down the names of the colleges you want to meet. Focus on what’s most important to you, such as college location, majors, size, public vs. private, urban vs. suburband vs. rural, dormitory vs. fraternity/sorority, single-sex, financial aid options and religious affiliation. Organize your list of colleges from most to least important. If the college fair has published a map of the fair layout, mark the locations of the college booths you want to visit on the map.
Next, compile a list of questions for the college representatives. Do some research about each of the colleges on your list, so you can ask good questions. Visit the admissions office section of each college’s web site and review the college profile on Cappex. If you can’t think of any questions, read 100 Questions to Ask on a College Visit for a few ideas. The best question to ask is “What makes your college special or unique?” Also ask about college costs and financial aid.
Some college fairs provide students with badges with barcodes that can be scanned by the college representatives. Others ask students to fill out an information card for each college of interest. To prepare for the latter, bring preprinted labels with your name, address, telephone number, email address, high school, year of graduation, majors of interest and any other special interests. This will save you a lot of time at the college fair. If your email address is inappropriate, register a new, professional email address, such as one based on your name (e.g., email@example.com).
Bring a bag for all the college literature you will collect at the college fair.
If your parents will tag along, split up. Tell your parents that you can cover more ground that way, and compare notes later. You will be more comfortable without your parents looking over your shoulder and monopolizing the conversation.
When you meet a college representative at their booth, introduce yourself and try to smile. Try to make a good first impression. Tell them why you are interested in their college. Ask all of your questions, one at a time. Ask for the college representative’s business card. If they don’t have a card, write down their name and email address. Then gather the college’s brochures and marketing materials.
Take notes immediately after leaving their booth. The colleges will tend to blur together, so it is best to take notes after each one. Write down your first impression of each college.
After you hit all of the colleges on your list, explore randomly. You might find a college of interest to you that you had not previously considered. Keep an open mind. Also, attend information sessions about the college application process and financial aid. It is an opportunity to get expert advice and answers to your questions.
After the college fair, send a thank you note to each of the college representatives and ask any additional questions. This is why it was important to ask for their business cards.