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College Fairs: A to Z

A college fair is a rare opportunity to see many options on a table before you, like a buffet of colleges awaiting your application.

Maya Moritz

March 26, 2014

College Fairs: A to Z
A college fair is a rare opportunity to see many options on a table before you, like a buffet of colleges awaiting your application. Perhaps the process is a little less exciting than that, but college fairs are nonetheless great opportunities to talk to representatives from possible schools, meet current college students and find new schools you’ve never thought about or maybe haven’t even heard of before. Learn A to Z tips for handling college fairs so that you can get the most out of the experience below (actually, A to F – it’s really not all that complicated).

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A is for……Arriving Early and Prepared

Whether you’re going to a college fair at school or as part of an event, it is important to leave sufficient time to properly survey the area and truly take everything in. During one college fair, I spoke to a representative for twenty minutes about the college, one I had never even heard of, and learned enough to interest me into applying. If I had come later, I would not have had the opportunity to see or learn about the college, which can limit your field of options. Thus, come early and come prepared. A bag is usually needed for various brochures and business cards, which you should pick up whenever you can.

B stands for…Bringing a Wingman

Additionally, you’ll probably want a parent or guardian there. They can speak to a representative with you to discuss finances or concerns. If you want to go alone and explore for yourself, you can always split up and meet again later. Also, if you’re low on time, this allows you to cull information from more schools than you usually could.

C represents…Checking College Credentials

A student should also pay attention to how the school presents itself. Are the students happy? Do they give rave reviews? Does the school invest resources into its students? However, it’s important to remember that these students are the same type of students who will give tours and speak about the university, because they had or are having a good college experience. Colleges would not send a student with a “meh” experience and certainly not a bad one, so take anything they may say with a grain of salt. Even though one student cannot sum up an entire school full of diverse students, it is important to keep in mind vital statistics. The student to faculty ratio, for example, shows much about the amount of interaction you’ll have with professors and how much attention you will receive in class.

D reminds you to…Develop Your Game Plan

Coming into the fair with ideas of which school you’d like to see is a good way to start, since the fair may be too big to stop at every school. Besides, if you are sure that you would never set foot on a campus with less than five thousand students, there’s no need to visit the booths of smaller schools.

E symbolizes…Exploration

On the other hand, keeping an open mind is always a good idea. The booth overrun with students may have something exciting to offer (aside from complimentary pens), or the booth no one approaches could actually be a very good fit. If you have the time and patience, try to see as many schools as you can. Granted, some of the brochures are just going to go into the garbage. Maybe you’ll take a few to avoid a long conversation with a school you’re not interested in. But for the schools you do plan on pursuing, brochures can be a nice way to lay out all your options.

F prompts…Final Reflections

When the time comes to make that final decision, you can physically see each school, your target, reach, and safeties. While college fairs may be too overwhelming for some, they can offer insight into your options and help place you in the best fit possible. If a college fair occurs in your area, it would be beneficial to take the opportunity. Before one imagines it, applications are due, and it is imperative that students keep in mind the scope and array of universities available to apply to and, possibly, attend.

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