The college fair season is in full swing. Students around the country are exploring their options and making decisions on where they will attend college. No one wants to look like a noob, so I felt it necessary to give you some insider tips. These strategies will make sure that you have the best experience at the college fair and get you started on the right foot towards a college education.
- HAVE A PLAN
Each college fair could have 75-100 colleges lined up ready to talk to you. If you don’t have a plan, you will never get through this and you will waste a lot of your time. Start by doing your research. For clearly bias reasons I recommend College Profiles as your starting place. It has information on schools across the country, more than would ever attend a single college fair.
Set a goal, like how many schools you want to talk with or what information you need to gather. Set time limits for each school you interview, these college reps can be a real “chatty Kathy” so you don’t want to spend all evening learning about one school.
You’ll certainly need a plan if you want to attend the presentation on earning scholarships. It is packed full of great tips that will help you pay for whatever college you choose. I doubt you want to miss it so make sure you plan around it.
You also need a plan to get past the façade that is a college fair. The fact is that a good rep knows how to spin the narrative and if you want a real answer, it’s not going to be straight forward. They know they need to make their college look good to students like yourself. They are not going to tell you that it takes an hour to get from one end of campus to the other, but they might tell you that the campus has a lot of beautiful open space.
- HAVE TWO LISTS
List one is covered above, you need a list of what schools you are interested in even if there is only a little bit of interest. I prefer to list these schools based on where they are in the room, but with the college fair being virtual that is unnecessary. Alphabetical seems to work best in the new world order that is post-COVID. On this list place one school that you know very little about. I know I stressed doing your research above, but having one “outside the box” school to talk with can really help solidify your feelings on the other schools. Just make sure you work your plan and don’t spend too long with this rep.
List two should include all the questions you want to ask the reps. All too often I see students approach a rep with “Tell me about X College.” Two reasons why this is bad. First, you come across as uninterested in their school. A student who really wants to attend X College would know a little bit. Second, this gets you no useable information. The rep is likely to spew a bunch of stuff you can find on their website. I bet you can read their site in a lot less time. Be specific about what you want to know. It’s a good idea to ask every school the same questions, just so you can compare answers later. One good thing about online college fairs is you can often copy and paste your chats into a notetaking app and review them later.
- TRUST YOUR GUT
I want to empower you in your decision on where to continue your education. I am sure you will get pressure from parents to go one direction, maybe a teacher says to do something different and then you add in this fancy college with their appealing answers to every question. It’s a lot to take in, I get it. I am not saying don’t let them help, or don’t take their advice. What I am saying is that if it does not “feel” right, then it isn’t right for you. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings in this process. Even at 16, 17 or 18 years old you have developed enough understanding of the world you live in to know what is right and what is not. Trust yourself, I know you will do great wherever you land.
These three strategies will help you make the most of the college fair. If you have any questions reach out to us on social media or call one of our offices. We are always happy to help guide you along your journey.