One of the first steps in the college admissions process is attending the college fair. Many colleges can seem cool and interesting, but not all of them will be for you. The college fair is a great opportunity to start making your interest list and/or taking colleges off your list. It’s a lot like window shopping – no commitments, just learning more and figuring out what you want (or don’t want).
Some college fairs will have a few hundred colleges attending. This, itself, can be very intimidating. But, preparing before the fair can take some of the intimidation factor away. After you’ve figured out what colleges you will talk to, what will you say or ask?
Before attending any fair, write down some questions that you want to ask the college representatives. Ask questions that are important to you. Below is a sample list of questions you can ask the college representatives to learn more about the college.
First, things first, make a good first impression. Extend your hand to the college representative and introduce yourself.
- What makes your college unique? This will be the representative’s opportunity to tell you what makes the college special. It also tells you what the college values. Sometimes, also hidden in the message, they will tell you why they think their college is better than a competitor.
- Please tell me a little about the ______ major. This is your opportunity to ask about the major or majors you are interested in studying in college. They will probably tell you what makes the program unique, opportunities within the major (internships, research, etc.) and what graduates are doing now. If they don’t tell you these things, you can ask.
- If you’re undecided on a major, ask the representative if you can apply undeclared and what services they have to help students choose a major.
- How many students return after the first year? The answer to this question will give you a glimpse into how satisfied current students are at the college. If the percent is low, ask why students are leaving.
- How would you describe the student body? This will tell you what the college atmosphere might feel like if you were on campus. This question is especially important when deciding if the college should stay on your list or not. If you are looking for a very lively campus and they tell you it’s quiet, it might not be the place for you.
- What is the surrounding community like? The representative will probably tell you about the things to do around the campus, as well how the college fits in with the city/town.
- Can you tell me about campus safety? By law, each university has to provide crime information on their websites. The representative might tell you specific statistics, or they might tell you the specific campus safety features the college offers, such as emergency phones, campus shuttles, escorts, etc.
- What are you looking for in an applicant? The representative will probably tell you the requirements for admission, as well as some things that might make your application stand out.
- How do you award scholarships and financial aid? Again, they will probably tell you the requirements to apply for financial aid, as well as information about institutional scholarships and how to become eligible for the scholarships.
The above are questions that most students should ask when talking to a college representative. After that, you should ask questions about things that are important to you. This can include information about a specific extracurricular activity, study abroad, fitness center on campus, etc. Ask your questions. Remember, you are the shopper and need to have your questions answered. This is your opportunity to ask your questions to a person face-to-face.
Lastly, get the business card of the Admission Counselor that works with students where you live. Keep in touch and ask questions as you have them about the college. Not only will you be getting your questions answered by a person, you’ll continue a good rapport with someone that will probably be making the decision on your application. This, in the long run, can help when they make a decision on your application.
Have fun at the college fair. I hope that the above questions can make the college fair feel a little less intimidating for you!