Whether you’re narrowing down your list of colleges or just starting your college search, college fairs are an excellent (and usually free!) resource to take advantage of to gather information about schools you’re interested in and get a feel for them without having to visit each campus. They are also crucial opportunities to make contacts by chatting one-on-one with campus representatives.
Student contact with admissions offices (aka “demonstrated interest”) can be a “tip factor” in admissions. Your contact with colleges could be the difference between your being admitted, wait-listed, or rejected—so take advantage of college fairs! To learn how to make the most of college fairs, check out this advice from adMISSION POSSIBLE by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz.
As soon as you hear about a fair in your area or at your school, register to attend and start looking at the list of schools that will be represented. Be prepared the day of the college fair by bringing with you:
Quick Tip: Most colleges will ask for your name and email address to keep track of students who come to their booth. If you don’t already have one, take a few minutes before the fair to create an email address that won’t embarrass you!
Here are a few key questions you might want to ask the representatives from your top colleges:
1. What is the campus atmosphere like? What happens during the day, evenings, weekends?
If a campus is generally really lively and students tend to party all week, but you’re someone who prefers to study late into the night, you’ll want to be prepared for that ahead of time!
2. Do most students live on campus? What are the dorms like?
Some schools have teeny tiny dorm rooms while others offer more spacious living quarters. And many have rules about living off campus as an undergrad, so be sure to know those details for budgeting purposes.
3. What is the usual class size? How accessible are professors?
Do you benefit from one-on-one contact with your high school teachers? You may want to avoid larger schools where lecture hall class sizes can reach well into the hundreds!
Not sure which college characteristics will fit you best?
Take the Fiske Sizing-Yourself-Up Survey to find out!
Other things that representatives can provide insight on include:
Don’t forget to thank each representative before leaving his or her booth, and ask for a business card so you can follow up with a thank-you note (yet another point of contact!).
When you get home, take some time to go over all of the materials you collected and discard any information for schools you are not interested in so you can focus on your top choices. Ask yourself which schools stood out to you the most and why, and visit their websites online to see if you can schedule a campus visit.
Ultimately, taking the time to attend a college fair will help you become more informed about the schools you are interested in and start building relationships with representatives who may become advocates for you during the admissions decision process.
For more tips on communicating with colleges and expert advice on the admissions process, check out adMISSION POSSIBLE: The “Dare-to-Be-Yourself” Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You in the College Countdown store.