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College Fairs: Making the Most of Them!

Prep for the Fair

Before the Fair
1. Answer the following questions to help you determine what kind of school would best suit you.
-Do you want to attend a two or four-year institution? Co-ed or single sex?
-What size school do you want to attend?
-What programs of study are you considering?
-How far from home do you want to go?
-Do you wish to participate in any specific extra-curricular activities or athletics?
-Do you want to attend a school in an urban, suburban or rural environment?
-Do you require any special services (i.e. tutoring, note takers, readers, TDD or interpreters)?

2. Discuss your college plans with your guidance counselor, family, teachers and friends.

3. Research your colleges of interest on the Internet and in your guidance office/library.

4. Check dates and registration deadlines for college entrance examinations.

At the Fair
1. Pick up a bag and a fair directory.
2. Visit with colleges and universities which you feel meet your criteria.
3. Talk with a college counselor at the Counseling Center if you have any questions or need help with your college search.
4. Attend an information session.

Faring Well at the College Fair

As you walk through the doors of the college fair, the noise is loud. People cluster around what seems like scores of tables, filling out cards, leafing through brochures, and
competing for the attention of nicely dressed admission representatives. This could be it, you think. You could find your dream college in this very room!

College fairs are an exciting chance to talk to the people in the
know. Admission representatives from a variety of colleges are all gathered in one place, just waiting to answer your questions. But it’s easy to get caught up in the crowds and confusion. Soon you’re crisscrossing the room (or many rooms), stopping at any booth that catches your eye or seems popular. When that happens, you end up with lots of pretty brochures, but not a lot of clear impressions about which colleges you may be interested
in. Making the most of a college fair means planning your strategy before you enter those doors.

Other things you can ask about: extracurricular activities, what
kinds of students the college is looking for, what percentage of students receive financial aid, and other concerns unique to your interests and situation.

Senior Year

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Mapping out a strategy
Before you leave for the fair, make sure you have the following
supplies: a small notebook with your list of colleges and questions you want to ask; a pen or pencil; and a backpack or tote-bag to hold all of the college information you’ll be collecting. Students with access to computers may wish to print up a few sheets of self-stick address labels. Include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), and any extracurricular activities you’re interested in. At the fair, slap the address labels on the college
information cards to save you time in filling out the same information over and over at each college’s table. The real stargazing begins when you arrive at the fair. Look for a map of where each college is located. If it’s a relatively small fair, all the tables may be in one large room, like a school gym. At big fairs hundreds of colleges may be spread over many rooms. Especially at the larger fairs, it’s important to map out your route. Note where each college is located and plan the most efficient way to visit the colleges on your list. (For example, you want to make sure to visit all the colleges of interest to you in one room before moving to the next.) Also, make sure to check out the schedule of information sessions: many fairs have sessions on the search process, applications, financial aid, and other issues run by experts in the field. These sessions are a great place to ask general questions about the college admission process. Your notebook and pen are great tools for keeping all those conversations straight. After you leave a table, jot down your impressions of the college and the answers the admission representatives gave you. Try to do this before you visit the next table, while your impressions are still fresh.

Teaming up
Depending on the time of day of the fair, both students and parents may be encouraged to attend. If a family member attends the fair with you, talk about your plan ahead of time. You may decide to split up-perhaps a parent can attend the financial aid seminar so you can visit more colleges. Another option is staying together for part or all of time. You may find that your parents or siblings ask different questions than you do. Also, it can be helpful to get a second opinion on your impressions of particular colleges.

Browsing
Planning ahead ensures that you get to visit the colleges that most interest you. But also make sure to leave time for browsing.

Following up
By the time the fair is over, you’ll have a bag filled with information about colleges-and a possible case of information overload. Don’t succumb to the temptation of just piling all those brochures in some obscure corner of your bedroom. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a day or two away from the college search. Then get out all of those brochures, along with the notes you took while at the fair, and read through them. You may find that some colleges aren’t as interesting as you first thought. Others only look better the more you research them. For those colleges, follow up by filling out the information cards in the brochures or by starting to schedule college visits. Remember to visit with the college representatives when they visit our school in the Fall- We will have several visitors during the lunch periods for you to meet and get to know.

Have Fun!

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