In recent posts we have discussed upcoming college fairs and what to do before, during, and after the fairs.
Now, let's talk about what kinds of questions to ask at college fairs.
While working in admissions at the University of Colorado Boulder I stood behind many college fair tables and talked to prospective across the country - from California to New England. Most recently, I have assisted my alma mater Colgate University as an alumni admissions representative at college fairs in Colorado. I have learned pretty quickly through experience that the more specific and personal a student is with their questions, the more information they will actually receive.
Remember, college fair conversations are brief and there is limited time to interact with the admissions counselors. This is an opportunity for you to learn something new about the college, confirm something you already heard, or find out why you might be a good fit for them and them for you. In addition, remember that these admissions counselors will be talking to a large number of students at the fair and it helps everyone if you head to the table prepared.
A few general tips:
- Avoid broad questions like "Can you tell me about your college?" The college reps often have their canned speech or script to respond to this. If you don't know anything about the college this description might be helpful but if you have already done some initial research you may know much of what they are saying. Instead, listen to their response while in line and then use your time up front to ask about your own personal interests.
- Understand that admissions counselors aren't experts on every single program and major and usually just have general knowledge on a lot of them. However, they often have contact information for someone in the department of your interest so feel free to ask them for that information.
- Don't ask questions that are easily found on the college's website or the brochures that are on the table. This might include: how many students attend, where they are located, what majors they offer, average GPA, etc.
- Find out if the admission counselor you are talking to is your state or school's representative from the college. Often, the counselor who travels to your community will be the one to read your application and conduct your interview. If so, you should be sure to get his or her contact information. He or she might be a good person to be in touch with in the future.
Ways to rephrase common college fair questions:
- Rather than asking "Where are you located?" consider asking "Can you tell me a little bit about the area surrounding campus? How do students take advantage of their surroundings?"
- Instead of asking "What majors do you have?" consider asking "I am really in interested in ______. Can you tell me a little bit about the majors you have that might relate to that? As well, what kinds of courses are offered in those program? Are there any special research, study abroad or internship opportunities associated with those departments?
- Rather than asking "What kinds of clubs do you have?" consider asking "I really like to do ______ outside of school. Do you have any clubs on campus that might fit those interests?"
- Instead of asking "Why should I come to your school?" consider asking "What kinds of students are a good fit at your school? What students are happiest on your campus?"
- Rather than asking "What do I need to get in?" consider asking "Are there certain qualities that you look for in a student's application?"
- Instead of asking "What do students do on the weekends?" perhaps be more specific and ask "What was going on on campus last weekend or what's happening this upcoming weekend?"
Get the idea? Great! Try it out at your next college fair.