This spring and next fall, colleges and universities from all over the United States will be gathering in Denver and Colorado Springs to host college fairs and meet the high school students from our area. Some of the fairs are very big – 150 colleges – and some are smaller, perhaps 30 or 40 colleges. Each college has a table manned by an enthusiastic college admissions representative who wants to tell you everything that is unique or interesting about their school.
At Monumental Beginnings, the question I hear from students is always: ‘Should I go to these fairs?” “Will I get anything out of them?”, or “How will the admissions representative even know who I am”?
Well, my answer is always: yes, yes and yes.
Why should you go?
The best reason is, especially early in your search, this is an opportunity to hear about and discover colleges from all over the country: large, small, private, public. Broaden your horizons! I’ll bet there will be many colleges that you haven’t heard of yet, and this is a chance to check out what might be available to you, both academically and financially. Before every fair, there is a list online of the colleges that will be there. Make a list of some that sound interesting, but be open to others, too!
What will I learn?
Like many things in life, the more effort you put forth at the college fair, the more information you’ll walk away with. This takes a little prep beforehand, but it’s worth it. What’s important to you? A specific major? Intriguing study abroad programs? Certain types of dorms/residence halls? Financial aid for good test scores and GPA? Have your questions ready!
Will they remember me?
At the fair, the colleges want to know who has shown “demonstrated interest” in them. Demonstrated interest is an important factor for many colleges; a student who is genuinely interested in a particular college, and shows the admission officer as much, either by visiting the campus in person and/or seeking out the admissions officer at a college fair. Many colleges actively seek students who are eager to attend, and take this into account when making an admission decision. Ask pertinent questions, and if the college is one that you are excited to apply to, show your enthusiasm to the admissions rep! Fill out a card with your information (tip: take some pre printed name/address labels with you, and include your email address! If possible, include your year of graduation, possible majors, a particular program you may be interested in, or any sports you are interested in playing in college. Some fairs give you the opportunity to pre-register and provide you with preprinted bar code info).
Some other tips:
- Your goal is to seek info that is important to YOU! Is there something that you haven’t been able to find out on the college’s website? Ask now!
- Bring a bag or backpack to collect all the brochures and view books you collect
- After you’ve visited a specific college, take a minute to jot down some notes – it will all be a big blur to you later if you don’t
- Wear something that you would wear to school, but don’t find yourself remembered by the representative because of a T-shirt that might be rude or inflammatory
- If your dream college will be in attendance, call the admission office a week or two before the college fair. Some representatives are willing to meet with a student privately for 5-10 minutes either before or after the fair. You can also find out in advance if that college is coming to visit your high school. This is a great way to make a strong impression, and don’t forget to bring your resume!
- Sometimes there are information sessions scheduled before the fair on college-related subjects. These are typically worth your time. Plan to come early and check these out!
How to find out when the college fairs are scheduled? As a client at Monumental Beginnings, planning for these fairs is part of our comprehensive college counseling package. I always let students know well in advance, so they (and their parents) can plan for it. College fairs aren’t just for juniors or seniors – in fact, I highly recommend that freshman and sophomores go, too. Your school’s college counseling office may also be able to give you information.
So, plan ahead, make a list of questions, print your labels, and wear comfortable shoes! You’ll get great new information, and feel like you just won a blue ribbon at the fair!
Upcoming college fair: In Denver, at University of Denver, on Sunday, March 19. For more information, go to https://rmacac.org/college-fairs/springdenver/.
Pat Davis, BS, MS, IEC
Co-owner Monumental Beginnings
Specializing in College Admission Counseling