As you begin to prepare for college, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options at your fingertips. Not to worry: there are plenty of resources available to give you better insight on your search for the perfect college, including a college fair. Defined by the experts at Big Future, “A college fair is a gathering of college representatives who are looking for the right students for their institutions. They’re there to spread the word about their college to high school students—and they want to talk to you.”
College fairs provide prospective students with an opportunity not only to meet with college representatives face-to-face, but also to collect valuable materials and perhaps even discover new colleges of interest. In order to get the most out of your experience, it’s helpful to prepare a strategy and organize your thoughts. Let’s get started.
How to get organized for college fairs in three steps
1. Before the fair
College fairs can be very valuable resources that you can refer to when it’s time to narrow down your choices. Being prepared can help you get the most out of your experience. Before you attend the next college fair, find out what colleges will be there and where you want to spend your time. Having a strategic plan before you arrive will help you make more informed decisions, instead of just wandering around aimlessly. For example, create a few college-specific questions that can provide you with better insight. These questions can help you uncover an even bigger interest in that college or help you decide it’s not right for you. Either way, you’ll be more informed when you’re ready to apply.
2. During the fair
Once you arrive at the fair, it’s easy to get caught up in distractions, including free gear and spending the duration of the fair catching up with your friends. Don’t lose sight of your goals. Stay true to your plan. Visit the colleges you have selected, and ask the questions you’ve prepared. Your conversations at the fair can have a positive impact when it comes time to send in your applications. College representatives remember and value a good first impression, so take the time to make connections.
Many college fairs host information sessions or free seminars covering everything from course offerings to financial aid packages and requirements. If the college fair you are attending offers these workshops, plan to attend at least one of them.
3. After the fair
Once you leave the fair, the benefits of your experience are not over. Think about the colleges that still interest you. What makes them special? Why do they stand out? This is also a golden opportunity for you to sit down with your high school counselor to discuss your experience and help him or her steer you in the right direction. Whether it’s following up with college representatives, or scheduling campus visits, now is the time to start reaping the benefits of your college fair experience.