College fairs, whatever their size and wherever they may be held, are excellent opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to learn more about potential colleges and universities. While the institutions that attend college fairs see them as a chance to advertise themselves and have conversations with potential applicants, many high school students do not fully grasp how to best use college fairs to ensure they stand out from the crowd and improve their college applications come admissions season.
Here are a number of steps that high school juniors and seniors should take both while attending college fairs and after these events have passed:
1. Ask targeted questions: The chance to speak with representatives from various schools and begin formulating opinions on what institutions might be best for you is one of the key benefits of attending college fairs.
While general admissions questions are useful to a degree, make an effort to identify those colleges and universities that have strong programs in your areas of interest. Then, ask targeted questions regarding these areas.
Asking questions about your potential major or extracurricular involvement will present you as a unique student with particular interests. The more memorable you are during a crowded college fair, the more admissions representatives may remember you if you ultimately apply to their schools.
2. Distribute copies of your high school resume: If asking targeted questions is the first step to college fair success, the second may be bringing a resume of your high school accomplishments. Print enough copies to distribute to representatives of any college that appeals to you, and do not be shy about handing them out.
Admissions representatives meet many students, and leaving them with a document that presents you in the best possible light makes it much more likely that they will recall you weeks or months later.
3. Reference the college fair during the application process: If you choose to apply to a school that you encountered at a college fair, make sure to mention the role that the fair or the school representative played in your decision. If possible, discuss your experience in an application essay.
If the essay prompt does not accommodate this topic, try to raise it during your admissions interview. In fact, it is likely a great idea to mention it during your admissions interview even if you write about it. Doing so will help you establish a personal connection to the school, which may boost your admissions chances in turn.
Attending a college fair is a great way to quickly learn important information about a wide variety of colleges, or to narrow down an established list of choices.
They provide you with opportunities to form personal relationships with schools, and to stand out from your peers both before and during the application process. Given the current competitiveness of college admissions, every advantage counts, no matter how small it may be.