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College fairs are a rite of passage for any college bound student. They provide a great opportunity for you to learn more about colleges without even leaving your high school or local community. Here are some ways to make the most of college fairs!

What to expect

A college fair is a designated time for colleges near and far to come together in one centralized location to talk to prospective students just like you! Each college will have a table with information, giveaways, and one to two college representatives. Your high school may host a college fair at your school or you may attend one for all students in your community at a local convention center. Attending a college fair for the first time can be pretty intimidating, but just remember the college reps are there to help you and are excited to meet you!

Before

Create a game plan

Some college fair events can have 300+ colleges present and will typically only last for a few hours. You likely won’t have time to stop by every table. That’s why it’s important to create a game plan in advance. Research which schools are going to be there and make a list of schools you wish to see. You may want to include a few “if you have time” schools. Keep track of any sessions you wish to attend. There may be ones held for specific schools or ones about general topics such as applying for scholarships. Be sure to bring a notebook to take notes and a bag to carry brochures, business cards, and other giveaways.

Make a list of questions

Along with your list of schools, make a list of any specific questions for these schools. Be sure to ask questions that can’t be easily found on the website. It’s always good to have some general questions in your back pocket to ask all the schools you are considering. Here are examples: What program(s) is your college most well known for? I plan to major in XYZ major. Does this major have specific admissions requirements? What kind of scholarships are available for incoming students? What steps do I need to take to make sure I am considered for all of them? What is the campus atmosphere like?

During

Introduce yourself and demonstrate interest

This may be the first opportunity you have to meet with your dream school IRL. You want to make a good first impression. Start off by introducing yourself to the representative, and then fill out the interest card or form at their table. Every time you interact with a school via email, phone, campus visit, or college fair, it’s logged. So this is a great time to express interest! To be sure your impression sticks, ask for a business card of the college rep so you can follow-up later.

Take notes

You are going to meet a lot of people and obtain a lot of information, so it’s important to take notes!  After each school you talk to, take a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts. This may include who you met, initial impressions on the school, and any answers to questions you asked. These notes will help you for post-fair follow-up and reflection. 

After

Get organized

Take some time to sort out all the materials you were given at the college fair. Keep the brochures of your favorite schools and dedicate some time to look through them. You will want to prioritize this organization exercise soon after attending the fair while its still fresh in your mind.

Review your notes 

Be sure to pull out your notes and take another look. Think about things like schools you want to keep on your list or any follow-up questions you may have. For schools that you are still interested in, be sure to send the representative a follow-up email. Let them know it was nice to meet them and include any questions you may have.

If you make the most of college fairs, they will really help you narrow down your list and get you one step closer to your dream school. Here’s a good place to check out upcoming college fairs in your area!