Here’s how to get the most out of college fairs:
Research college fairs in your area. Look online at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) spring schedule. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation also maintains a college fair calendar. Your school district or high school may also have their own fairs planned. Check with your guidance counselor for a complete schedule.
Register for fairs in advance and avoid the lines when you arrive. Sign up for NACAC fairs online and receive your own barcode to print and take to the fair. You will be asked to enter your contact info, academic interests, high school and graduation year. 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. Find out which schools will be participating. Take the time to go through the list and decide which reps you’d like to visit with and which events you would like to attend. Plan your day – pick up a map and note the start times of special events, then begin with the schools at the top of your list. While you’re at the fair keep an open mind as you walk through the aisles. Visit booths from a variety of schools and chat with their reps. Take brochures and course catalogs to review later when you have more time at home.
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. Get ready to meet with college reps at their booths by having a few questions ready. Ask questions that are school specific and can’t easily be answered by looking at the website. Don’t forget to ask for business cards after your conversations.
Follow up with reps. Feel free to send an email with any additional questions you have. You may also want to send a thank you note if you felt you had a meaningful conversation with any particular rep.
Organize all the material you collected at the fair. 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.
College fairs offer you the chance to gain exposure to a broad range of colleges and universities all in one place. This is a great way to start your college search.