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Navigating College Fairs

Oct 18

Navigating College Fairs
 

As a high school student, you’re probably busy with class, work and extra curricular activites, and you’re wondering just when you are supposed to have time to start researching colleges. Most high schools recognize that students may need or want some assistance in this area, so they will often hold college fairs. College fairs allow a number of representatives from a variety of schools come to you and answer any questions you may have. College fairs are a great way to look into many colleges in an easy and accessible way. So, what should you do to make the most of these college fairs?

First of all, attend. Some schools make the fairs mandatory anyway, but even if your school doesn’t you should attend. You are unlikely to find another situation like this, where a large number of representatives are available to answer any and all questions you might have on the spot. There is almost no easier way to quickly compare a large number of colleges and find which one you like best. If you know the college fair is happening ahead of time, you may want to spend some time thinking of questions you want to ask.

Second, take notes, gather materials, write down your thoughts, etc. Keep a record of your time spent at the fair. If you spend your time visiting a large number of schools, you may have trouble remembering specifics about each of them later. Take any promotional materials the schools are offering, take business cards of the representatives in case you have follow up questions, etc. You should even have a notepad and pen handy so you can make some brief notes about each school as you’re going.

Third, keep an open mind. Even if you think you know where you want to go – or even where you don’t want to go – keep an open mind and talk to a wide variety of people. Look into small schools and large schools, look into schools in areas other than where you had in mind (out of state, perhaps), look into different types of programs and occupations if you don’t have a major picked out yet. Basically, this is the time you should look into as much as you can – you never know what’s out there.

Finally, use the fair not only to learn about what schools offer, but what they are looking for in students as well. A college fair is a great time to learn about the schools that are representing themselves, but it’s also a great time to learn about yourself as well. What kind of classes should you be taking to prepare for a major at a certain school? What kind of activities or experience can help strengthen your application for another school? This is a great opportunity to get advice from someone who is affiliated with the school.

After the fair is over, give yourself some time to rest. Then, later on think about what colleges or schools stuck out in your mind the most. Go over all your notes and materials and see what now looks best to you. Spend some time visiting web sites of some of the schools you were most interested in. College fairs are a great way to jumpstart your college search and point you in the right direction.

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