Going to the College Fair

College fairs expose you to many different schools

During your junior and senior years you’ll probably have the opportunity to attend a college fair. The fair you attend may be small—perhaps at your high school or one nearby—and involve representatives from area colleges. Or it may be a larger regional event that hosts representatives from colleges statewide and sometimes even from out-of-state colleges and universities. Such fairs allow you to learn what different colleges offer and help you find the college or colleges that may be right for you.

Before the fair, describe the ideal college for you. Determine the importance of the following factors:

  • Distance from hometown
  • Campus size
  • City size
  • Sports and activities offered
  • Majors available
  • Cost of attendance

Find out which colleges are sending representatives to the fair. Select the ones that interest you. If you haven’t yet narrowed your choices, use our search tool to look for those that meet your requirements. If you need help, ask your school counselor.

Next, decide what you want to know. Write a list of questions such as:

  • What are the college’s strengths?
  • What is its policy on transfer credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and dual-credit classes?
  • Does it offer majors that interest me?
  • Does it have an open house for potential students?
  • How can I get in touch with current students to ask them some questions about the college?
  • How much is the application fee, tuition, other fees?
  • What are the admissions requirements—high school classes, tests (ACT, SAT, SAT II), test scores?
  • When is the application deadline?
  • How many applicants does it accept each year?
  • What scholarships and other financial aid are available?
  • What kind of student residence is available?
  • What is the average class size?
  • Is tutoring available if I am having trouble with a class?
  • Does it have a job placement program for its graduates? What is the rate of employment placement for graduates?

Take a copy of these questions, a pen, and some paper with you to the fair. Take notes as you talk with each representative. Remember that you are the customer and it is the job of the representative to sell the college—just as any salesperson seeks to sell a product.

Before going to the fair, type your name, address, and phone number on some labels. Representatives will probably ask you to sign a list or to put your name on a mailing card so they can contact you later. Often it is difficult for them to read students’ signatures.

Take a business card from each representative with whom you talk, or note the rep’s name and phone number. If you are serious about attending a particular college, you should stay in touch with the representative. The day after the college fair, send the rep a thank you note. As soon as possible, arrange a visit to the college.


This article was written by Sally Wood

Sally Wood is a freelance writer and editor from Marionville, Missouri. She worked as a high school counselor in the Aurora R-VIII School District in Aurora, Missouri, from 1980–2000.

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