Before attending a college fair, have a plan. College fairs are especially helpful if you're unable to visit all the schools that interest you. Here's how to make the most of them.
Ready for your questions
Students and parents can go to these events for free. College fairs are a good chance for you to interact with admission representatives from a wide range of schools. Many of them will be ready to discuss:
- Course offerings
- Admission and financial aid requirements
- Campus life
- Information pertinent to the college selection process
Expect lots of information
You can catch college fairs at large convention centers as well as in high school gyms. Dozens — or even hundreds — of colleges and universities will have tables with information about their school and representatives to answer your questions.
If they're giving out bags at the entrance or the tables, use them to collect the materials from the colleges that interest you.
Your plan of action
Be prepared before entering the college fair.
It's not unusual for thousands of students and parents to attend the larger events — so expect crowded halls and long lines at the booths of the more popular schools.
Consider these tips as you prepare for and while you attend this event:
- Get a schedule from your guidance counselor.
- Find out which colleges will be represented.
- Prepare a short list of questions. (Bring a pen and small notebook.)
- Visit the colleges that interest you, but talk with representatives from other schools.
- Dress appropriately — make a good impression.
- Collect brochures and business cards.
- Take notes before moving to the next booth.
- Prepare self-stick labels with your name, address, email, phone, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), and extracurricular activities. You will be asked to fill out interest cards at the booths; using these stickers will save you from writing the same information over and over.
Information sessions and open houses
Most fairs present experts who cover a variety of topics about the college search process, admission applications, student financial aid, scholarships, and other issues. These sessions are a great place to ask questions about the college admission process and learn the things you need to know.
Another way to learn about colleges is to attend open houses. Open houses are held at the college itself so prospective students can explore the grounds and get a taste of campus life. Check with your guidance counselor or the schools' fair tables or websites to find out when these events are scheduled.