8 Tips for College Fairs
Once the school year begins, so do college fairs. College fairs can be large-scale events or more intimate high school-sponsored gatherings, but they all allow college representatives to travel the country to meet students where they live. These fairs can be an integral part of your college search process, as they provide easy access to a wealth of information from a range of colleges and universities.
Just like going into Ikea, it's key to have a game plan mapped out before you enter a college fair. Many of these events are extremely large scale, so it's important to know the information you hope to learn – and how you plan to get it – before you step inside. We encourage you to take a look at our tips below to find out the ways to get the most out of your experience.
- Do your homework. Prior to the fair, if you haven't already, think about what type of school might be a good fit for you by talking with your high school counselor and your parents. Get a list of the schools planning to attend the fair, and determine which ones might match your criteria, and plan to speak with those college representatives.
- Use MEFA Pathway. MEFA Pathway, the free online college planning tool, can further help you find schools that match your criteria and might be a good fit. Cross-check your MEFA Pathway college list with the schools coming to the college fair.
- Visit each school's website. Look through the website for each school whose booth you plan to visit at the fair. Learn more about specific academic programs and offerings, including internships, co-ops, and other potential opportunities to explore. Your time will be limited at each booth, so prioritize questions, based on your research, that help you gather targeted information that goes beyond what you can find on the website.
- Be independent. If you're attending the fair with your parents, use the opportunity to drive your own search process. While your parents may ask questions, take the initiative to introduce yourself first and ask YOUR questions at the start of the conversation.
- Complete information cards. Admission representatives are likely to have you fill out an information card at their booth. Save time by simply sticking pre-printed address labels on the card. This will give you more time to ask your questions and learn about each school.
- Tap into alumni. Ask the college representatives if there are ways for you to connect with current students or alumni. This can help you learn more about the school and perhaps build a helpful connection.
- Have an open mind. While you should prioritize the schools on your list, visit the booths of at least three schools you haven't yet considered. You never know what you might discover.
- Send thank you emails. Send an email to all of the college representatives with whom you spoke thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in their schools. This will further reflect your interest in attending.
A college fair is a wonderful opportunity to fine tune the college search process, as you gather more information, potentially rule out some college possibilities, and sometimes add a school or two to your list. Remember to bring a pad of paper for notes, dress sharp, and speak confidently as you meet college representatives. You will gain a lot from the experience.