College fairs are a great way to meet admissions reps! Fairs offer you the opportunity to gather lots of information for your college search. You’ll probably find fairs in your own town or certainly in towns nearby. Getting the most out of college fairs requires some advanced planning. You may want to consider doing the following:
- Research college fairs. Look online at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) fall schedule. NACAC also offers a schedule for students interested in the performing and visual arts. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation also maintains a college fair calendar. Your school district or high school may have their own fairs planned. Check with your guidance counselor for a complete schedule.
- Register for college fairs online. Register for fairs in advance to avoid the lines when you arrive. NACAC has an online registration form where you’ll be asked to enter your contact info, academic interests, high school and graduation year. You’ll receive your own barcode to print and take to the fair. By scanning your code, college reps will be able to read your information and eliminate the need for you to fill out individual information cards at each booth. They’ll also have your information if they want to reach out to you.
- Get ready for the fair. Review the list of participating schools and decide which reps you’d like to visit with and which events you’d like to attend. Prepare by thinking about what type of school may be the best for you: 2 or 4 year, size, distance from home, environment, special programs and areas of study. Have a few talking points ready for when you meet with college reps at their booths. Ask questions that are school specific and can’t easily be answered by looking at their website. Don’t forget to ask for business cards after your conversations.
- Plan your day. When you arrive, pick up a map and jot down the start times of special events. Begin with the schools at the top of your list, but keep an open mind as you walk through the aisles and stop in to look at a variety of schools and chat with their reps. Take brochures and course catalogs to review later when you have more time at home.
- Follow up with reps. If you have any additional questions, you should feel free to follow up with an email. Also, you may want to send a thank you note or email if you felt you had a meaningful conversation with any particular rep.
- Get Organized. Sort through the brochures and business cards you collected and save the ones you’re interested in. Go online and look further into the schools you liked. Create a preliminary list of schools you’re interested in.
College fairs offer you the chance to gain exposure to a broad range of schools all in one place. This is a great way to start your college search.