How to Prepare for a College Fair

College fairs are a great time for one-on-one visits with admissions representatives.

A college fair is an event for high school students to learn more about colleges by talking one-on-one with admissions representatives from various universities. College fairs are typically held at high schools, community centers, community colleges, or convention centers.  

Use these 5 tips to best prepare for a college fair: 

  1. Review the list of schools. Before you go to a college fair, get the list of schools that will be represented at the event. Review the list and mark the colleges that you are most interested in learning about. Take some time to research your narrowed list of schools and take notes. Jot down general facts (number of students, location, cost, etc.) and key features (student activities, school traditions, fun classes, etc.) about each school.  
  2. Ask thoughtful questions. When you have an opportunity to talk with a college representative, make the most out of your time by asking the right questions. Rule of thumb: if Google can answer it, don’t waste your time asking. Instead, try to learn something about a school that requires an answer from an expert. Use these 10 questions for inspiration: 
    1. What is a typical day on campus like for a freshman student? 
    2. What do students do on the weekends? 
    3. What is the coolest class you’ve heard about? 
    4. What kind of career support is offered outside of the classroom? 
    5. What is the most popular student organization on campus? 
    6. I enjoy playing ______ in my free time. What club would you recommend for me? 
    7. What are the dorms like? How about the food? 
    8. I want to pursue a major in _____, can you tell me more about the program and how it’s different than other schools? 
    9. What is the coolest part about the city/town? 
    10. What question do you wish I would ask? 
  3. Take good notes. Take a minute or two between booths to write down key takeaways from your conversation. If you wait too long, all the small talk can start to blend together. Another tip is to write down something memorable about the rep you talked to so that you can easily think back to the conversation. Download our College Fair Worksheet to see an example of how to organize your thoughts, before, during, and after the event. 
  4. Leave time to explore. Mapping out the booths you plan to visit can help limit too many distractions. However, it’s important to allow some time to explore options that didn’t make your short list. Don’t let tunnel vision keep you from learning about a school that catches your attention.  
  5. Collect contact information. Make sure you snag business cards, brochures, and any other information you can about the schools that excite you. Use these materials to compare schools by manually sorting the handouts once you get home.   

College fairs might not have cotton candy and carnival rides, but they are full of valuable information that can help you plan for your future.