When you first walk into a college fair, it can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of booths set up throughout your high school gym or local community college, and you may have no idea where to start. Despite the hustle and bustle of college fairs, they’re a great tool for your college search. Not all schools host college fairs, so if you’re one of the lucky ones you should be taking advantage of it. Here’s what you should do to make the most out of these events.
Before going to a college fair, it’s important to do your homework—not necessarily your AP Stats homework, but your research on colleges. See if your school has a list of the colleges that will be at the fair and check them out! Also think about what you want in a college: in state or out of state, public or private, a big or small campus, etc. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, think of some questions you might want to ask. College representatives are well versed on almost everything related to the school. Ask them about what majors they have that might interest you, what their opinion is on the school’s programs, or what campus life is like. The reason they’re there is to inform you of anything you want or need to know, so think about what’s important to you and what questions to ask!
Check out all the colleges
Even if you have your heart set on one college, you never know what hidden gems you could find. Personally, my “dream college” has changed at least a hundred times during my college search, and schools at the bottom of my list have risen to the top. Having an idea of what you want in a college is great! Just don’t become so set on a school that you can’t see what other great options are sitting in front of you. This doesn’t mean you have to have an entire conversation with every college rep, but at least pick up a few brochures to get some general information.
Get all the information available
You’ll most likely leave the fair with so many brochures, pamphlets, and business cards you won’t even know where to start. This is a good problem to have! These materials usually contain information on schools’ majors, admission statistics, and basic information on student life. They’re great references to look through when you’re weighing your college options later.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
Most admission representatives give out business cards with their contact information. Don’t be afraid to send them an email. This is a great way to get information because you won’t have to worry about holding up a line and rushing through all your questions. But college reps aren’t your only option: always feel free to email a college’s admission office with any questions you may have too. During application season especially, make your name a familiar one when they sort through applications!
Your college search doesn’t end here, in fact, this is only the beginning. College fairs are meant to raise your interest and inform you about college. Make a list of about five to 10 colleges that seem like they’d be a good fit for you and keep researching them. See if these colleges have your ideal major and backups, look into their scholarship and financial aid opportunities, and see what their student life is like. You can always find plenty of information on the school’s website.
Plan a visit
Once you have your list, start planning on visiting your favorite colleges. You’ll be spending four years of your life at college, so make sure to visit beforehand to see if the campus feels like a good fit for you. But college visits can be expernsive, especially if you want to visit colleges that are far away. If you can't make it in person, many colleges now offer virtual tours that cover a lot of the big ticket locations and features of their campuses.
College fairs are incredibly helpful, so it's important you make an effort to attend at least one during your high school career. You can certainly learn a lot about schools online, but why wouldn't you want to tak the chance you have to talk to school officials in person? Take advantage of this great opportunity!