There are so many colleges out there, you shouldn’t just apply blindly. Instead, you should be looking at a variety of colleges, near and far, for the right fit for you. The easiest and least expensive way to check out a range of colleges is at a college fair. There are local fairs at your school or city conference center, and there are virtual fairs, both close to home and convenient.
In order to utilize a college fair well, here are some pointers.
1. Find out what colleges will be represented at the fair. Then sit down with your high school guidance counselor to eliminate colleges that clearly do not fit your needs. Now, make note cards or organize a notebook list of the colleges you want to check out. Use this as a place to take notes and names of the college representatives’ contacts. Also prepare cards or labels with your name and contact to give to each representative.
2. Arrive at the fair early and look at the fair’s directory. Identify the colleges you have come to see and where each’s booth is located. Map a logical way to navigate through the fair and note any times informational sessions will be taking place which you may want to attend.
3. Sign in at each booth. Now there is a record of your visit for you and the college. You may want to show later you have a “demonstrated interest” in a college you end up applying to.
4. Ask the right questions. Here are a few that are important:
• What scholarships and financial aid do you have?
• What are your admission requirements?
• What is your most popular major?
• What is your graduation rate, and what do your graduates do after graduation?
• How can I contact students who are already enrolled at your school?
5. Use a cell phone to record information and your pre-prepared notebook to gather information. Also, always take a brochure and the representative’s card at each booth.
6. Follow up with schools you are still interested in by sending a note or an email to the representative you spoke with. Ask further questions and explain your interest in the college.
The college fair process will help you both enlarge your list of college possibilities as well as pare down your applications to the colleges that are best for you. College fairs also get you started early and allow you to research quickly.