National college fairs span the U.S. from coast to coast and visit every major metropolitan area across the country. Students won’t find any ferris wheels or cotton candy at these events, but they will find many college representatives sitting at tables and handing out brochures and cards. Have questions? Ask the reps! These are outstanding opportunities for students to learn about a wide variety of schools, attend helpful seminars and collect information on:
• Admission requirements
• Financial aid
• College majors and courses
• Life on campus
Fairs can help students cross some colleges off their list and discover new ones to add. Some college fairs are even attended by the admissions officers. There are also a lot of pens, bags and other giveaway items for the taking.
College fairs are free and open to the public. Popular venues for these fairs include schools, a convention hall, hotel ballroom, conference center or local community center.
International College Counselors Note: Students should leave their contact info with all the schools that interest them. At application review time, demonstrating interest in a school may give them extra points. If students don’t leave their name, the colleges won’t know they were there or showing interest.
To find out when and where college fairs are taking place in your area, ask the high school counselor or call or email us if you are a client of International College Counselors. You can also visit the website of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Links to the upcoming NACAC national college fair schedules:
Students can also take advantage of online college fair events. They happen nearly every day. We highly recommend them for international students and for those who are unable to travel to the college fair locations. But anyone can attend.
One of the most popular hosts for virtual college fairs is College Week Live.
If you can, send your student to more than one college fair so he or she can get a good sampling of what’s out there. Different schools attend at different times.
The checklist below from College Week Live will help your student get the most out of each fair.
Before You Go
- Find out which colleges will be at the fair (a list may be posted on the fair’s website) and write down the names of the ones you want to learn about.
- Make a list of any questions you have.
- Bring your list, a pen, paper and a bag to hold college brochures.
- Make sure the email address that you give out won’t embarrass you — remember, college admission officers will see it.
While You’re There
- Get a map of the fair and plan a route that will take you to the booths of all the colleges on your list. If there is no map available, do a quick survey of the room to locate your colleges.
- Visit booths and ask college representatives questions. For example, you can ask, “What kind of student are you looking for?” or “What makes your campus special?”
- Take a minute to jot down any information you think is important before moving on to the next booth.
- Check out some of the other booths when you’re done with the colleges on your list. You may stumble onto a great college you hadn't considered.
- Attend an information session, if any are offered. Typical topics include applications and financial aid. These sessions are good opportunities to get expert advice.
When You Get Home
- Ask yourself which colleges stood out and why.
- Organize the college material you collected and review it that week while it’s fresh in your mind.
- Go over any notes you took during the fair.
- Throw out the pamphlets of colleges you’ve ruled out so you can focus on the colleges you’re interested in.
- Do more research on the colleges you’re thinking about. Explore websites, contact the admission office or plan a campus visit. If you liked what you saw at the fair, it may be time to see the college in person.
For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.