Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anatomy of a College Fair


College Fairs are a major part of my job as an Admission Counselor, but they can still be pretty overwhelming! I've observed a lot of students as they navigate a College Fair, and I've come up with a few tips for you guys -

First, you should make a plan of attack - I see lots of students wandering around aimlessly, and some come up to my table more than once, forgetting if they talked to me or not because of how many schools they've been to. If you can get to the fair a few minutes early that really helps because you can take a look at the list of colleges present and mark off the ones that you want to go to, and can cross them off after you've chatted with the rep. That way you won't miss anything - or accidentally go somewhere twice!

Typically, the popular schools in a particular area (think state schools or schools that are close to where the fair is located) will be swamped at first, so try to make it to your "off the beaten path" schools first. That way you talk to the rep without feeling rushed by other people and can go back to the local, more popular schools when they calm down a bit.

When you get to the table, ask the rep questions that you know you couldn't get the answers to on the school's website. For example, I could recite our Admission criteria in my sleep because of how many times I get asked for it, but you could easily find that on our website. Instead, try asking the rep if they are an alum and what their favorite part of their experience was, or what type of student would be a good match for the school, or ask for information about unique programs within the area you would like to study. Go beyond what you could find on the website and take advantage of the time that you have with a rep in front of you! This will also help you remember which school said what - every school's admission criteria is going to blend together if you hear 15 of them in the span of an hour, but asking unique questions will be memorable.

College fairs are overwhelming, but can be very helpful - plus there is lots of cool materials to take home with you to remind you of what websites to look at, and usually, reps will be more than willing to give you their business card so that you can contact them with further questions.

Good luck!!

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