This is the time of year for college fairs. Perhaps you have already received an invitation to your local event. These kind of events offer a great amount of information for college planning. According to BigFuture by college Board, “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.” So attend! But before you do, you need to have a plan. So here are some college fair strategies that will help you make the most of your college planning adventure.
Don’t attend without a plan!
Here is the first of our college fair strategies…make a plan. There will be many colleges at the fair and it may be impossible to see every single one. This is why a plan is so important. If possible, get a list of the colleges that will be in attendance. This information should be available at the college fair website. Also, see if you can find a map of the college fair itself. You may be able to map out your trip even before the doors open. (Power Tip: You can eliminate every college that does not have you intended major.) This will save you lots of time.
Also, make sure you have everything you need for your information finding adventure. You will need a pen, paper, and clipboard (or something else on which to write). Bring a small bag/tote, because there will be a lot of informational handouts. It would be helpful to bring a bottle of water to refresh yourself after talking to the college representatives. But the most important thing you will need to prepare prior to the event is a list of questions!
Make a list of questions!
Okay, let’s move forward with our college fair strategies. Strategy #2: ask the right questions. The entire focus of the college fair is information, but the wrong information will not help you. So, take some time prior to the college fair and ask yourself what information is most valuable to you. A quick search of the internet will help you find a lot of good questions to ask at your college fair. These questions may or may not be the main questions you have, but at least they are a starting place.
In fact, we recommend you find a good college fair worksheet. You can find many of these resources online. We suggest that you find the most detailed worksheet you can and then start your research early online. You can find financial information, demographic information, graduation rate, average debt load of graduates and much, much more. If you use the college fair to find information that is already available online, you will miss the full potential of the college fair. College fairs are most valuable when you ask the questions you can’t find elsewhere.
Plan time to Evaluate!
Here is the last of our college fair strategies today. Take time to evaluate your college fair findings. You should do this as soon after the fair as possible, while all the information is fresh in your mind. Yes, you made good notes and asked great questions, but that information is not valuable until you place it in the context of your college plans. Place your worksheets side by side and start to see what are your “likes” and “dislikes” about the individual colleges. Then prioritize the list of college from the ones you like the most to the ones you dislike.
Congratulations, you have just made your college list! And you already have many of your questions answered. Breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the next step in your college preparation…the college campus visit.