The first step of the college search is to navigate rows upon rows of colleges at a large fair. Here, admissions representatives from across the country gather in one place to promote their schools. Time your time, speak to as many schools as possible and collect brochures.
Preparation Meets Opportunity
If you can receive an advanced list of attending colleges, game planning will be easier. Highlight the schools of interest, then conduct some research. Arrive early and be prepared to 'attack' these schools. The lines will progressively get longer as the night wears on, so speaking to the representatives in the beginning will maximize your time. 'Practice' with a non-target school to learn what admissions representatives are discussing, promoting and asking. This will provide an idea of the 'lingo,' ultimately preparing you for your target colleges.
As suggested, conduct some research. Hopefully you have written down notes and highlighted areas to further discuss, such as "tell me more about your Co-Op Engineering program" or "what kind of research opportunities are there for freshmen?" Do not ask basic questions that can be found in brochures or online. You may only have a minute to talk because of the crowd, so make it worthwhile. Ask specific questions about programs, opportunities or curriculum and put these answers next to your researched notes. Do not be shy, this is your opportunity to find out if you are a fit for this college.
Most colleges log the amount of contact you will have with them. This exchange can be a request for information, college fair visit or a campus visits. Thus provide your information to colleges if they ask. Yes, you will receive stacks upon stacks of brochures and your email inbox will be cluttered. In the end, it may be worthwhile because colleges want to ensure they accept students who are generally interested in attending their school and not applying for the sake of applying. Colleges may not divulge this, but scholarships opportunities may be increased if the schools have known of your previous interest. Schools might boost your financial aid package to ensure you will accept their offer of admission. If colleges send an email, make sure to open it and occasionally click on a link, they are monitoring!
Going along with demonstrated interest, make sure to ask the admissions representative for a business card. In the next few days, send them an email thanking them for their time answering your questions, what you thought was interesting about their school and to keep you informed to upcoming campus or local events. Make it short and sweet, but long and intelligent enough to make an impression.
One last bit of advice. If you cannot attend your local college fair, do not fret. You will most likely be welcome at other school's college fair.
If you would like to know more about visiting a college fair, contact us.
For a list of Chicagoland college fairs, click here.