College Fair Etiquette 101
‘Tis the season for college fairs as Admission Counselors everywhere hit the road traveling all around the country and the globe speaking with high school students. While college fairs allow prospective students the opportunity to speak with representatives from hundreds of colleges/universities in one evening, these incredible opportunities can often be equally overwhelming. Let’s take a look at a few simple tips that will help you make the most out of your college fair experiences this fall:
1. Research participating colleges.
Take the time to review a list of the participating colleges and make note of those you would like to investigate further. Typically there are hundreds of colleges/universities represented, so chances are you won’t be able to make it around to each, this is when prioritizing comes in handy!
2. Make a discovery.
Avoid tunnel vision! There will certainly be colleges/universities that you’ve heard of at every fair, but there will also be many that you haven’t. Just because a school hasn’t shown up on any of your “Google Searches” doesn’t mean it can’t be the perfect fit for you. Don’t be afraid to explore and learn!
3. Organize questions in advance.
College representatives don’t attend fairs simply to stand there and look pretty, we are here for you! Come prepared with questions! Take a peek at websites and make note of programs you want to know more about. Lines are always long, but you can make more use of your time if you know exactly what to ask when you get the chance to speak with representatives.
4. Dress for success.
You don’t have to go rent a tux or ballgown for the event, but it doesn’t hurt to look your best. You never get a second first impression, so sending the message that you’re a student serious about his/her college search can go a long way.
5. Don’t leave your manners at home.
Handshakes. Eye Contact. Please. Thank You. All of these gestures go a long way and you want to make sure that you carry yourself in a polite manner. Who knows – you might come across these college representatives again during your college application process and you want them to remember only the best about you!
6. Arrive early and strategize your approach.
The early bird catches the worm (and in this case, doesn’t have to wait in long lines!). At each fair you will be given a map which will outline the layout of the fair. In order to prevent backtracking, decide how you want to approach the fair. Perhaps a family member will attend with you so that you can cover more ground, or perhaps you want to ask your questions together. Either way, be sure that YOU, the student, are leading the way – this is ultimately your decision!
After just a few minutes at a college fair, your bag of information can start to get heavy fast and all the pamphlets you received, tables you visited and representatives you spoke with may start to blur together. With all the information fresh in your mind, review everything when you get home and be sure to file it away for safekeeping. If you have continued interest in any of the schools you learned about, be sure to stay in touch with the representative and reach out with any follow-up questions.
College fairs are an incredible opportunity to jump start your college search process, or to help narrow your choices down. Prospective students and families can receive great exposure to an extensive variety of schools and have questions answered by experts in the field. Whenever you hear of a college fair in your area, I encourage you to check it out and keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your experience. Good luck!