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    Use These 6 Tips to Make the Most of College Fairs

    Posted March 21, 2024, 1:00 pm
    Use These 6 Tips to Make the Most of College Fairs

    Nothing says spring like those annual spring college fairs. If you have ever attended one or look forward to attending one this spring, you know they can be a bit overwhelming.

    Faced with the daunting task of connecting with admissions representatives from numerous colleges, parents and students need a plan. Approaching a college fair without a plan will leave you frustrated and disappointed at the end of the event.

    When approached properly, college fairs can help you in the beginning stages of the college search process. More importantly, however, they facilitate those all-important connections with college admissions officers.

    Use those connections in the future when visiting campuses, connecting with the colleges via telephone or email, and even to cheerlead when you submit your college application.

    1. Prepare

    As with any college-related task, preparation is key; and the college fair is no exception.

    • Research the colleges scheduled to be there. Learn about the basics: campus size, majors offered, location, etc. This information will help you make a good impression and appear knowledgeable when talking to the representatives. It will also help you when preparing a list of questions to ask.

    • Choose your wardrobe carefully. First impressions are important. Avoid tattered jeans, a dirty T-shirt, and flip flops. Treat the connections you make with the college representatives as a preliminary interview.

    • Create a college email account. Firstname_lastname@gmail.com. Use this email address for all your college-related connections. Not only will you look professional, it'll be easier for you to keep important emails separate and organized from personal and spam emails.

    • Create a business card. Go the budget route with self-stick labels affixed to index cards or splurge on a small business card order. Include your legal name, mailing address, email address, year of graduation, and intended area of study. This will help you leave your information with the colleges and also create the impression that you are prepared for the fair.

    2. Map out a strategy

    When you arrive at the fair, take a look at the physical map of the location and where each college is located. Take a few minutes to map out a strategy and decide which college representatives you want to meet.

    One Florida admissions officer compared a spring college fair to a buffet: There will be more there than you can take in, but not everything is to your taste. As with a buffet, scope out your choices before you start adding to your plate or gathering your information.

    Skip the colleges that don’t interest you. You’re on a mission. Stay focused!

    3. Take notes and gather business cards

    Bring a notebook to the fair and jot notes as you talk to college reps (or after you've spoken). Ask for business cards from those whose colleges you found interesting, and use an app to store the representative's contact info. Share your contact info, too, if you have business or index cards with your personal information.

    4. Ask questions

    Attending one of these fairs gives you the opportunity to conduct your own mini-interview of the colleges. Instead of asking questions you could answer by browsing the college website, dig deeper. Ask questions that won't be answered on the website — like:

    • What do students like most about your school? What's the biggest student complaint?
    • Where do students hang out on campus?
    • Do students live primarily on or off campus?
    • What's the academic workload and pressure like?

    And remember: college admissions representatives learn just as much about you from your questions as they do having a conversation.

    5. Attend information sessions

    If the spring college fair is offering information sessions, make plans to attend some of them. 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.

    6. Follow up

    After the fair, spend some time organizing your information and going over your notes. Grab those business cards you collected, along with the notes you made, and send an email to the college representative letting them know how much you enjoyed speaking with them. This will serve to cement your meeting in their mind and provide an opportunity for further connections.

    [Looking for more info from the TeenLife Experts? Here's how to show colleges that you are interested!]

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