Think about your favorite summer street fair. There are delicious foods, smiling vendors, and maybe prizes you didn’t expect to walk away with.
While perhaps slightly more serious, college fairs are similar in nature. Typically hosted in large venues, college fairs are filled with friendly recruiters who are all vying for a few seconds to tell you why you should consider their school. Armed with food, fliers, and other goodies, you’re sure to walk away with some school spirit and (hopefully) a better idea of what schools to apply to.
The more you prepare, the more you may get out of the experience. Complete the following checklist to help increase your chances of finding schools that may be a good fit for you.
Spend some time researching
Whether you have a dream school or you’re still shopping around, it’s important to research the schools that will be at the college fair. Then, make a list of which colleges you’d like to visit at the fair. Even if you’ve narrowed down your selection, a good rule of thumb is to try to talk with recruiters from about five universities. This way, you’ll be able to carry on an in-depth conversation with the recruiter, but your list will prevent you from spending all of your time at one booth.
Prepare your pitch
Confidence is key when talking to college representatives. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and shake the recruiter’s hand. It’s important not to interrupt if the recruiter is busy talking to another student, but it’s generally OK to join in if a recruiter is talking with multiple prospective students. When you introduce yourself, be sure to clearly state your name, your high school, and why you’re interested in that recruiter’s college.
Before the fair, make a short list of what you want to know about your top five schools. Then, start asking questions. Below are some sample questions to get the conversation started:
- What is the student-to-faculty ratio? How accessible are professors outside of class?
- Do you have some kind of unique freshman experience for residence halls or classes? Is there an honors college?
- What are a few pros and cons to campus life and the surrounding town? How do you typically see students adjusting to the environment?
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask if the recruiter would be willing to put you in touch with any current students, so you can talk to a peer about their transition and current experience.
Besides your list of colleges and questions, bring copies of your resume to give to recruiters. Include your overall GPA, test scores, honors and AP classes, and activities you participate in as well as any positions you hold. Finally, don’t forget a notebook and pencil. You’ll likely experience information overload at the fair, and you’ll be grateful you have notes upon returning home.
Dress to impress
While college fairs don’t require professional attire, it’s a good idea to dress nicely — like something you would where to an awards dinner at your school. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, but avoid flip-flops or dirty sneakers. Most importantly, make sure your outfit makes you feel confident.
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