If you have started your college research, and feel ready for another layer of engagement with colleges, then you should know about college fairs and how to make the most of them.
In-person fairs are usually held in large halls lined with tables hosted by admissions representatives ready to share information about colleges and universities from all over the country, and even the world. Locally, fairs have been offered by WACAC (Western Association of College Admissions Counselors) and this year it is being held at Dominican University in San Rafael on April 12, 2022 from 6-8pm. Here is a great resource from WACAC on how to think about and plan for in-person fairs.
Many new ways to engage online with colleges have developed over the last two years. The best place to get started to engage with a specific college of interest is on the admissions department webpage; look for virtual content previously recorded or upcoming webinars and tours. If you are still in the early shopping phase of “trying on” colleges, consider participating in a virtual fair. The next NACAC Virtual College Fair is Sunday, April 23 from 1-6pm.
You can make an account, and then once the event is posted, select the sessions you want to attend before the event. You can use the “colleges” tab to see what live sessions are scheduled that you can sign up for and what video presentations are already posted. Listen in on student panels or those associated with a major or career field you might want to pursue.
Whether in person or online, here are a few insider tips:
Insider Tip #1: Don’t ask questions of the admissions folks that can be easily found on the college’s webpages. Consider these:
- What do students like most about your school? What is the biggest complaint from students?
- What kinds of students are happiest at your school?
- How would you describe the academic pressure and workload?
- What are the faculty like and how accessible are they to students? Are there any specific programs designed to promote mentoring relationships between professors and students?
- How does your career planning department compare with other colleges/universities and how can I take advantage of the services for internships and job placement?
Insider Tip #2: Remember to use your note taking template google doc or research notebook to track your impressions and what you learned. You can use the SAFE acronym to organize by topics:
- Extracurricular/Campus Life
Insider Tip #3: Write down the name and contact information of the presenters or representative that you spoke with or chatted with in the Q&A. It is advisable to follow-up and thank them for their time; you may want to reach out to them again later in the application process with more specific questions. (I will write more soon about “Demonstrated Interest” – there are many ways you can learn if a college is a good fit for you while showing a college you are taking an interest in their campus and programs – many colleges track a student’s level of interest and engagement and use this to predict yield. Admissions professionals seek to predict who is more likely to come to their school if admitted and prefer to give acceptance offers to students who they predict has a higher chance of choosing that college than other students.)
It’s low sakes right now – Have fun exploring and think about college admissions reps as a valuable resource!