How to prepare for a college fair

How to prepare for a college fair | JLV College Counseling Blog

Attending a college fair is a great way to do college research. Whether you are just beginning the college search, or you are digging deeper to narrow down your list, you can learn a lot at a college fair.

Attending a college fair can be intimidating, especially if you do not come prepared. Depending on the college fair you attend, you can see anywhere from 15 to hundreds of colleges in attendance. Where will you start? Who will you talk to? What will you say? If you don’t come prepared, you probably will not get the most out of the college fair. Here are some tips that will help you prepare for the college fair.

  1. Get to know yourself and what you want in a college. Depending on the size of the college fair, you will not be able to get to every table at the fair. Get to know what type of colleges you would be interested in attending. You may want to ask yourself some of these questions:
    • What locations will you consider?
    • What majors are you interested in studying?
    • What size college do you want to attend?
    • Do you want a religious affiliation?
    • What other things are important to you in a college?
  2. Find out what colleges will be attending the fair. Most college fairs will have a list of the colleges attending the fair. Check the college fair website or check with your school counselor to get this information. Keep a copy of the list and highlight the colleges you will want to be sure to visit at the college fair.
  3. Do a little research before the fair. Start building your college list by finding colleges that have everything you are looking for in a college. If any of the colleges are attending the college fair, make sure to visit them.
  4. Have your information ready. Many large fairs have started having students register before the college fair. Instead of writing down all of your information for each of the colleges you are interested in, registering will give you a bar code the college representative will be able to scan to get your information. If the college fair will not have bar codes, prepare labels with your information (name, address, phone number email address, high school name, intended start term, etc.) to give to college representatives. Both of these things will save you time so that you can spend more time talking to the representatives and asking your questions.
  5. Be patient. Depending on the college fair, you may have to wait in line to talk to a college representative. This will be especially true at “big name” colleges. Be patient and wait your turn. Talking to the representative is very important when trying to narrow down your list of colleges that you will investigate further.
  6. Get the college information and Admission Counselor’s business card. The information given out at the college fair will have a lot of great information you can refer back to after the fair. In addition, the admission counselor will be a great resource long after the fair. If you ever have any questions about the institution, they will be the person you can contact to get your answers.
  7. Make a good impression.
    • Introduce yourself to the representative.
    • Don’t ask general questions like, “What’s your school all about?” Go to the table with a little knowledge about the school. For example, you can ask, “What can you tell me about the ______ major?” or “What is your acceptance rate?” These types of questions are much more helpful to you, plus it shows the college representative you are truly interested in the college.
    • Be respectful to the college representative, no matter how they are affiliated to the school. The college fair representative may be an admission counselor, alumni volunteer, or a current student. No matter who they are, they may be taking notes on you as well.
  8. Go outside your comfort zone. There will be colleges at the fair you may not have considered. However, if there is something about their booth/table that is pulling you in, go for it and ask your questions. You might be surprised and find another college or two that are worth looking into during your college search.
  9. Do further investigation into the colleges after the fair. Don’t let the brochures you picked up just go into the closet or a drawer and forget about them. Go through the information when the information is fresh in your mind from the college fair.

College fairs are a great resource when you are doing your college search. Plan ahead and get the most out of the college fair.

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6 Comments on “How to prepare for a college fair

  1. Very timely, thanks Jessica! I had a parent ask me about college fairs last night. I’m glad to see that the info I gave her was similar to yours. 🙂

    • Yes, September is a big month for college fairs. I remember when I worked on the college side of admissions, most nights and weekends were filled with me standing behind a table talking for hours about my institutions.

  2. Thank you for this I was just saying next month is College Fair time and what should my daughter do being a senior.

  3. Great and timely information! Can you please expand a little more on the labels? Are they used instead of signing in at a table and what size label? Heading to first college fair next month. Thanks!

    • Hi Karen. Great question. The colleges will have the information cards students can fill out to get on the college mailing list. Instead of handwriting their information for all of the colleges, they can place the labels onto the information cards and then fill in any other questions the card asks. In addition to saving time, it helps the people who are transcribing the information because they won’t have to decipher handwriting. When I was on the college side, I received so many cards that I couldn’t read and we had to try and figure out what was written. I was always so happy to see information cards with labels because there was no question about the information the student was giving us.

      As for the label size, it is really up to you. The smallest cards college use I have seen is 3″ by 5″, so I would recommend nothing bigger than that. However, even a simple address label will have enough space for all of the necessary information.

      I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, please let me know.

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