Do’s and Don’ts: College Fairs

College fairs are a great way to explore schools you’re interested in, or learn more information about them. We’ve already stressed the importance of attending college fairs in another post, but this time around let’s talk about what you should do (or not do) while attending.

DO: Research Which Schools are Attending

Before the fair, you should look up who’s attending. Having a little insight into the schools present will allow you to pre-select which ones you’d like to visit. Maybe you can even prioritize your list—which is useful especially if the fair is busy or you have a time constraint. If some of your top picks don’t happen to be going, it can’t hurt to look into other options and learn about some alternative schools—you never know, you might talk to a representative of a school you hadn’t considered and find yourself interested.

DON’T: Go Unprepared or Empty Handed

Just wandering into a fair and browsing the booths likely won’t help you much. Instead, prepare for the even by creating a list of attending colleges that you’re interested in, come up with some questions you have about the schools—is the college well known for the major program you’re interested in? What percentage of students receive financial aid? What is the atmosphere on campus? etc. It also can’t hurt to keep your ACT/SAT scores and GPA in mind, just in case they ask or you’re curious about the averages for admitted freshmen at that school.

DO: Ask About the Representatives’ Experiences with the School

If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to go do a school visit, the next best thing is talking to people who’ve been there / studied there / worked there. What’s their favorite thing about the students there? Is it easy to navigate campus? What sort of school events are there? What’s their least favorite thing about the school? Note: this does not mean you should really ask them personal questions—like what their grades were or something like that.

DON’T: Forget a Pen, Notebook, and Folder

“Oh I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it later.” Famous last words. Do yourself a favor and just bring note-taking materials along with you. Jot down impressions, concerns, relevant information, questions, and whatever else as you go booth to booth. Collect your thoughts on paper and you’ll thank yourself later. Folders can also be helpful at a fair; you might get a lot of handouts or brochures from the people you visit.

DO: Dress for the Occasion

Now, we’re not saying you need a tux, but distressed jeans, a novelty t-shirt, and old tennis shoes might not cut it. Dress up a little. This will show the representatives that you’re taking the college search process seriously. You only get once chance to make a first impression, and although the reps may not be part of the application committee, it is still likely your first interaction with the school. Put your best foot forward and put a little effort into your wardrobe.

Another great way to discover colleges? College Raptor’s free match tool! With it you’ll be matched to the best schools for you based on your academic, financial, and social fit!

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