Navigating a College Fair


In April, the Westchester College Fair brings a diverse group of college admissions representatives sharing their institution with you, the student. Walking up and down the aisles, the view of so many table displays listing majors, activities and information that may peak an interest to stop at the table, is daunting! This overwhelming event can be simplified to provide you, the student, with a positive experience. Here are some tips:

Prepare address labels ahead of time to take to the fair—College admissions representatives may ask you to complete an information card. This may take time and not give you an opportunity to listen to the presentation about the college since you are concentrated on the task at hand.

Print a set of labels with your name, address, email, phone and graduation year on it.  If you would also like to add area of interest, that would be fine. As you go through the college fair, you can peel off a label and place it on the card allowing more time to get questions answered.

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Developing questions—Now that you have the label on the card, there is time to ask questions. Before the college fair, establish two or three questions that you find to be the most important for you to further investigate the college. Here are some ideas:

  • What are the classroom sizes based on your learning style and comfort zone to raise your hand and ask questions?
  • Share one or two activities you want to continue in college and ask what the institution offers and how to get involved.
  • You have heard that internships are a good way to learn and obtain a job in the future. Ask about the opportunities available and when can students select to do internships.
  • You are thinking of doing research while in college. How can the college support research opportunities and do students get a mentor?

Don’t forget to ask about open houses and visitation days. Having this information ahead of time assists with planning college tours.

Information overload—As you walk around you will pick up a lot of information. Trying to sort everything out after may be difficult as confusion sets in. Here is are some organizational tips that might help:

  • Create a Google Spreadsheet or use OneNote Notebook to create files with the targeted colleges you want to meet with.
  • The chart may consist of the college name and other factors you would like to consider such as size, location, cost, etc. Make sure you have a comment area.
  • Once you have visited the college table, step aside and write a few things that intrigued you about the college and the conversation with the representative. These are items that will help you remember and connect the college with ideas you learned.
  • With the representative’s permission, ask if you can take a picture of the table display and add it to the chart. Visuals help!

Connection—Before you leave one table and move on to the next, make sure you have asked for the college representative business card. It would be ideal to send a thank you note to the college representative for spending time speaking with you. A little positive gesture goes a long way!

Once you are home with bags of materials, sorting it out will take time. Go back to your notes and identify the colleges you want to begin investigating more. Go on the college’s page and find “Admissions.” Some may have virtual tours for you to follow and if not maybe you will find pictures.  From this initial research you will develop a list of schools you want to go visit.

Enjoy the ride and have fun!

Dr. Deborah Hardy is the founder of GuidED Consulting LLC. To learn more, call Dr. Hardy at 914-721-3591.

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