College fairs are a great time for students and their parents to find out good information about colleges they are interested in AND to network with people in college admissions offices. Although you may find some college fairs are restricted to only junior students, that is not the case for all fairs, and many restricted fairs offer open-to-the-public evening sessions. We recommend that students go to a college fair before their junior year with their parents, and perhaps every year of their high school.
Here are some tips for making a visit to a college fair helpful and effective.
First, make a list of the colleges you are most interested in so you can visit each. (A map of the fair will also save you time finding these colleges in a logical order.) Be sure also to plan to stop by some other colleges, like ones out of the geographical area you have targeted or ones whose names you have never heard of so you can expand your college list. Now is the time to explore.
Second, take time to pre-research the names on your college list before the fair. College websites provide a lot of basic information like grade and test score expectations, types of programs offered, and costs. Why waste time asking questions you can find answers to!
Third, make a list of questions you do want to ask. These questions might cover general things like social activities and campus facilities. Other areas you might want to explore at this time when you can talk face-to-face with campus representatives are
- Incentives for out-of-state students,
- Support for studying and learning problems,
- Employment opportunities on and off campus,
- Study abroad programs, and
- The percentage of returning sophomores.
These should be a good footholds for starting to use a college fair to your advantage.