Make the College Fair Worth Your Time

Your local college fair is one of the best chances for juniors to visit with admissions representatives from a variety of colleges all at once.  For sophomores, it is a great time to begin looking.  I highly recommend that you attend!  Here are my tips to make your college fair well worth your time:

Arrive Early

so that you can use all the time you have productively.  Parking is a bear!  Allow for the extra time!  Admissions counselors get exhausted talking to so many people in a short time, so catch the important ones early.

Bring Address Labels

Bring with you a sheet of labels (like Avery labels) on which you’ve printed your full name, address, phone number (where you want to get recruitment calls), email address (you’ll definitely get emails!!), and your high school.  This little trick will save you lots of time and energy filling out those little postcards by hand–just slap your label on it and you’re set!

Ask Smart Questions

Come prepared to ask a few intelligent questions of the college representatives.  Even if you can’t think of any, make it sound like you’ve prepared a little bit.  For example, if you have no idea if College X has the Finance major you’re hoping for, don’t make your first question the obvious, “Do you have a Finance major?”   Odds are ridiculously high that they do have that major (or most any other).

Instead, open the conversation this way, “Hi, my name is Alex Smith.  I’m a junior at North High School.  I’m thinking of majoring in Finance because I can see myself working in….(fill in the blank)…(here are some sample questions:

  • “Can you tell me some of the highlights of your program?”   Try to find out 3 things about that school’s major that sets it apart.
  • “In what ways are faculty mentors to the students?” It’s ok to keep this a general question; if you get a blank stare, or a “Excuse me?” then follow up with “I want a college where my professors will know who I am; how does that happen at X University?”
  • What kind of students thrive at X University? What are you looking for in the students you recruit?

Believe me, you’ll be so much more impressive to the reps!  And, more importantly, you will have a chance at a real conversation.  Take the time to get their impressions of what they love about their college, what they are proud of, or what their students are accomplished in.  It’s ok to admit that you’re not familiar with their school; give them a chance to tell you what they can offer you and your interests.

Make the College Fair Worth Your Time

Now, here’s what will really make the college fair useful:

Gather all the information and handouts (you may want to bring a bag for all of it, just in case they don’t give you one at the Fair). Be sure that you have the business card of the admissions rep that you talked to.

Sort Materials

Go home and take 30-40 minutes to “process” this deluge of information.  Sort out the stack of info into piles of “Interested,” “Consider,” and “Not Interested”.  Then, starting with the ones in the Interested pile, write notes to yourself about each whose table you visited.  This is how you’ll remember whatever minor details you learned from your conversation with the rep. This is the beginning of much critical research you will be doing on your colleges; don’t lose the opportunity.

Do the same for your Consider list, and maybe even your Not Interested list for any reps you actually talked to. Write yourself notes about why you are not interested in those schools.

Say “Thank You”

Finally, you will be memorable in a very positive way if you write a quick thank you note and mail it to the rep (you’ll have their business card, remember).  Just say that it was a pleasure to meet them and thank them for explaining such-and-such about this-and-that.  Tell them you look forward to learning more about their school and possibly seeing them at their visit to your high school.









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