If enrolling in a college is like embarking on a serious, committed relationship, then college fairs are basically speed dating events. This is your chance to get to know a little bit more about the schools you’ve had your eye on, and start to determine your long-term compatibility. Does your school or school district have a college fair coming up this fall? Here are some dos, don’ts, and considerations to put in your back pocket prior to attending!
- Many college fairs will publish a list of attending institutions prior to the event. We’d definitely recommend reviewing the list and circling any tables you’d like to stop at ahead of time. There are usually a LOT of colleges in attendance; reviewing a list will ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to talk to a representative of a school you’re interested in.
- Use the Notes app on your phone or an old fashioned notebook to take notes on the schools that you talked to. This is even more helpful if you already have a list of questions handy to ask at each table.
- Colleges will also have a ton of handouts/brochures available – take any that will be helpful and feel free to take notes directly on the brochure for reference as well.
- Introduce yourself to the representative at each table you approach and take a note of the person you talked to. You might find it helpful to be able to drop their name/title later on during the application process. It can be equally helpful to have their direct contact information for any follow-up questions you think of if they are comfortable giving you a card or their personal email address. If it’s a school you’re especially interested in applying to, we’d recommend shooting the representative a follow-up email or card to thank them for their time and the helpful information that they shared with you!
- Don’t shy away from a table if it’s a school you’ve never heard of! The massive benefits to attending a college fair is that there are all kinds of colleges and universities at your fingertips. Approach any unknowns with basic questions to get an idea of whether it’s a school you might want to know more about.
- Don’t stay home from college night because you are a freshman or senior! It’s never too early to get a feel for the colleges and opportunities that are out there. If you’re a senior, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the colleges on your shortlist or even add a couple of schools to your list before the application deadlines. If a school is high on your list this is also a great last opportunity to show demonstrated interest and meet a representative from that college in person.
- Don’t just follow family members or friends around the event! You could easily miss out on some important information or networking opportunities if you don’t follow your own agenda.
Lastly, here are some sample questions you can consider asking at each table to learn more about each college and whether or not they might be a great fit for you:
- What is the most important factor in your admission decision? Is this college test-optional or test-blind?
- How large is your undergraduate enrollment?
- Do you typically require interviews in the application process? If so, can you tell me more about that process?
- Do you track demonstrated interest?
- Do you offer financial aid and/or merit-based scholarships?
- Do you have a separate scholarship application from the admissions application?
- How would you describe your campus and the location/city?
- What are some of the more popular and more unique student organizations on your campus?
- What is your campus housing like? Are students required to live on campus?
- If you know what major you’d like to pursue, be sure to ask if they offer that specific major and to tell you more about that department.
- What stands out about your college’s required core classes? Are there any unique classes or opportunities for first year students?
- What services does your career center offer to students? What about alumni?
- When is the best time to plan a campus visit?
- If I am interested in applying to this college, what would be the best ways to stand out among other applicants to set myself apart? What steps should I follow to ensure that I am adequately demonstrating interest (if the school tracks this)?