What to do before the college fair:
1. Make sure you are registered for the fair (if that is an option). Registration (particularly for the large national fairs) will provide you with a barcode that you can print out and bring with you on the day of the fair. The colleges will then scan your bar code and collect your information so you don't have to fill out one contact card after another.
2. Look at the list of colleges attending the fair. Many of the college fairs have websites where you can see a list of the colleges attending. Make a plan for which colleges you want to talk with so you can make sure that you don't miss any.
3. Do your research before you go. Doing some research on the colleges you will be talking to at the fair, particularly the ones you are most interested in, will help you have a stronger conversation and be able to ask better questions.
4. Dress appropriately. No one is saying that you need get all dressed up for the college fair, college admission counselors know that you are students, but you should try to avoid things like wearing inappropriate slogans or showing too much skin.
What to do during the college fair:
1. Introduce yourself. When you walk up to a college's table take a moment to introduce yourself. The fair will likely be busy, so don't expect that the admissions counselor will necessarily remember your name, but it is polite to shake their hand and introduce yourself. Feel free to tell them your name, where you go to high school, and some of your interests.
2. Ask questions. One of the first things the colleges will ask you is whether or not you have any questions for them. Rather than staring like a deer in headlights, ask them a couple questions (see tomorrow's post for ideas) and strike up a conversation.
3. Be patient. College fairs can be busy and there will likely be a lot of lines to wait in talk to the colleges. Be prepared to wait patiently for your turn. As well, when you get to the front be respectful of the admission counselor's time particularly if a lot of students are waiting behind you.
4. Take their business card. Most college reps will have their business cards on the table with their email and phone number. Take this with you so you can follow up on in the process.
What to do after the college fair:
1. Follow up. Use that business card you picked up from the table and make a connection with the admissions counselor. If you have follow up questions about the school or the application process you now have a contact in the office to email or call.
2. Look through the materials you picked up. All too often the college brochures that students pick up end up crushed in lockers, smushed in back packs, or thrown in the recycling bin. Colleges put a lot of time and thought into developing these for students so take some time to at least glance through them.
3. Check for opportunities to visit campus. Now that you have interacted with the colleges in this informal setting, a next step may be to plan a campus visit. Take a look at your calendar and pick some dates that you and your family can schedule visits.
4. Continue your research. Perhaps the admissions counselor told you about their school's amazing anthropology program or their study abroad program in Chile. Whatever it might be, take some time to look a little deeper and get a better understanding of whether or not it might be a good fit for you.