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How to prepare for a college fair

How to Prepare for a College Fair

Attending a College Fair is a great way to do college research. It allows you to meet face-to-face with college representatives. Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

Before the Fair:

  • Ask yourself “Why do I want to go to college in the first place?” This may sound basic, but you’ll be surprised how difficult this question might be for you to answer in the beginning.
  • Consider what you are looking for in a school—big/small, major, urban/rural, 2-year/4-year, religiously-affiliated, athletics, Greek life, special programs/opportunities, etc.
  • Make a list of schools that are a “must” to connect with. You may not be able to get to every college, so know ahead of time what type of colleges you would be interested in attending.
  • Register online ahead of time, if applicable. Registering will give you a bar code the college rep will be able to scan to get your contact information.
  • Type your contact info, high school name, graduation year, major, etc. on sticky labels for contact cards.
  • Talk to at least one college representative from a school you have never heard of.
  • Prepare a list of interesting, specific questions for the college reps—this will generate interesting and specific conversations.
  • Make a professional email address.

During the Fair:

  • Bring a pen, paper, and tote bag for notes and materials.
  • Grab a map (if available) to plan your route.
  • Be patient—you may have to wait in line to talk to a college.
  • Don’t let your parents do all of the talking.
  • Take notes! Write down what you find most interesting about each college.
  • Ask for business cards. Follow up with the rep if you have more questions or just want to thank them for their time.
  • Be adventurous! Chat with colleges you may not have considered or never heard of.
  • Attend an information session to learn more about the college search process, financial aid, and other topics.
  • Drop by the Counselor table to meet one-on-one with a College Counselor.

After the Fair:

  • Organize and sort through all of the material you have collected.
  • Make notes about schools that stood out to you while it is fresh in your mind.
  • Recycle materials from colleges you have ruled out.
  • Review college websites, catalogs, and view books of the schools that interested you most. This will help you narrow your choices.
  • Write down any additional questions you want to follow up about.
  • Consider sending a thank you email to the college representative. This simple gesture can show admission officials you are serious about wanting to attend their college.
  • Talk to your parents and counselor about what schools peaked your interest and why.
  • Adjust your college list accordingly, if necessary.
  • Start scheduling visits to your top schools.
  • Read e-mails to see when colleges will be visiting your school or community.

What Can Parents Do:

  • Encourage your students to research the schools ahead of time and truly evaluate what they want out of their college experience.
  • Attend the information sessions on the college search process, financial aid, and other topics.
  • Encourage your student to begin the exploration process EARLY. Be ready to discuss post high school options, including finances.

College fairs are a great resource when you are doing your college search. Plan ahead and get the most out of your experience. Enjoy!

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