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  • The College Fair

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    The college fair is a great way to collect information about potential schools. In terms of usefulness, we'd rank it below visiting campus and above typing "college" into Google.

    Everyone wins in a college fair: high school students get face time with colleges from around the country in a single evening. Colleges can touch a cross-section of students from an area in a single evening.

    Most students go to the fair unprepared, and that's a mistake. You should know what you are looking for before you arrive.

    Most students go to the fair unprepared, and that's a mistake. You should know what you are looking for before you arrive.

    Get a game plan.

    Before you arrive at the fair, do your research. Which reps do you want to meet? What do you know about their college already and what do you want to know?

    If you have a conversation with a rep and she can clearly see you are interested and familiar with the school, that impression can have an impact. A few thoughtful, well–researched questions are best.

    It will also have an impact if you ask obvious questions like, "Where is your school?" or "Do you offer a business major?" If you can find the answer on their website, don't ask.

    Play the part.

    You don't need to rent a tux, but you don't want to look like you just peeled yourself off the couch. College reps will remember students who seem well put–together and who demonstrate serious interest in their schools. Show them you're interested by smiling, making eye contact and being polite. Demonstrate that you are a smart, likeable, inquisitive person who would make a great college student.

    If there are other students in the room who also have questions, make sure you don't hog the time.

    Let your eyes wander.

    It's okay to approach a school you are unfamiliar with. Smarter students seize the opportunity to learn about new schools, understanding that one of these freshly discovered colleges might be the perfect place for them. Be prepared to talk about yourself and what you are looking for.

    Ask for contact information, and use it.

    Make sure you get the admission rep's contact information. Within a day or two, send them a thank-you note and let them know you're interested in their school. Keep it short, polite and professional.


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