Ways to make the most out of your college fair experience
As you start to approach your senior year, you will probably, at least once, have the opportunity to attend a college fair. Whether the fair is in-person or virtual, attending college fairs is a great way to get an idea of what kinds of colleges are out there, as well as ask your important questions to figure out if a school should go on your list for further consideration.
To help you make the most out of your college fair experience, here are our best tips for college fairs:
1. Review the list of colleges and universities attending in advance. Don’t go in expecting just to talk to certain schools–the whole point of the college fair is to explore–but do have a list of colleges you definitely want to talk with and some in which you are interested but don’t know a lot.
2. Make your game plan in advance. We recommend making two lists of questions: one for questions you want to ask specific schools, and one for questions that you would ask any school you speak with. For example, if you know you are coming to talk to Agnes Scott, you might want to ask us specifically about our SUMMIT experience; go ahead and make a note of that somewhere so you don’t forget.
3. Take your questions to the next level. This is your chance to really learn about colleges, so don’t make your questions the most obvious versions. Some good ideas:
- Instead of: “How’s your biology major?” Ask: “What are the most popular classes in the biology department? What’s the average class size of a first-year biology class? What internships and research opportunities do you biology majors have, and when do they get to start doing those? What graduate schools do your biology majors go into?”
- Instead of: “Where is your school located?” Ask “What’s the best thing about where your school is located? How hard is it to get to (if you live farther away)? How do students get involved in the local community?”
- Instead of: “Tell me about your college.” Ask “What kinds of students are happiest at your school? What do students like the most? What do you like the most? What would you change about your campus? What’s the most unique thing about your school compared to every other school in this room?”
- Instead of: “What is student life like?” Ask: “Are there other students in my racial/ethnic/religious/other group on campus? How many? What types of clubs and organizations are available? How many organizations are students usually in? How difficult is it to get a leadership position? What is your favorite tradition that happens on campus? What percentage of students live on campus each year? Is housing guaranteed? What types of housing is available?”
- Instead of: “Will I get a job after I graduate?” Ask: “How does your college support students while they are on campus? Who helps students find internships and research experiences? Who helps them make decisions about graduate school? Who helps them find jobs when they graduate? What kind of jobs are students going into right out of college? What types of jobs do students have 5-10 years after graduating? Where do the largest groups of alumni live?”
- Instead of: “How much will it cost to attend?” Ask: “What kinds of scholarships are available? How do I apply for those and how qualified am I to get them? What’s the average financial aid package look like? What’s the average cost to attend after financial aid for in-state students? What’s the average cost to attend after financial aid for out-of-state students?”
- Instead of: “What GPA do I need to be admitted?” Ask: “What are you actually considering when you look at a student’s application? What’s the most important factor when considering an application? Do I need to submit test scores, and what are the averages? What do the most successful applicants do differently on their application?
4. Explore some colleges off your list. Maybe you never considered going out of state. Maybe you’ve never heard of that school from across the country. Talk to them anyway; they might be the school of your dreams!
5. Get and give information. Most college fairs have ways for you to give colleges your information. That’s the way that the admission counselors you speak with will be able to follow up with more information. You can also get the counselor’s contact information to reach out to them with further questions after the college fair.
6. Debrief. Fairs, while they are happening, can be overwhelming. Set aside some quiet time after the fair with someone in your support system to look through the information you have collected. Talk about the schools you are now interested in researching and the ones that are no longer on your list. Put together your list of next steps on what to research and who to reach out to with more questions.
7. Relax and have fun! Fairs can be overwhelming, but they can also be a fun way to learn about the many colleges and universities in the country. Don’t get too stressed out or overwhelmed. If the whole process seems overwhelming, remember you can always get contact information at schools you are interested in and reach out later with your questions.
We hope this helps as you are getting ready for college fair season. And hey- if Agnes Scott is at your fair, make sure you drop by and let us know!