College Fairs are the trade shows of higher education. 100’s of colleges’ admissions officers standing behind long rows of tables, set up in a high school gym and everyone’s got shiny, thick papered brochures with 1000’s of parents and students wandering around, wrinkled maps in hand, waiting in lines for one, maybe two minutes of face time, trying to be heard over the noise–not necessarily conditions conducive to getting useful information. So, what’s the best way to approach a college fair?
- Be discriminating. Check the list of schools in attendance before leaving the house. Aim to talk with representatives or pick up brochures from colleges you’re unsure if you’ll apply or not. (Why speak with representatives from college where you’re sure you’ll apply? If you want their attention and for them to recall who you are, attend their admissions session at your high school or call the admissions office and ask questions.)
- Sort the brochures within days of coming home. Separate piles for “I need more information” and “I totally changed my mind and no way am I moving to _________ state” will help make sure your dining room table stays clear.
- Talk with your parents (or whomever attended the fair with you). Ask their opinions about colleges, talk through your thoughts about particular campuses and what you’re seeking from going to college. The more conversations you have over time will help in choosing where to apply and writing essays in the future.