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College Fairs Coming To A Town Near You

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece that included a tip on college visits. With the winter behind us, the spring is a great time for high school juniors to get out and see the schools they are most interested in. College campuses are very active this time of year; students are out and about, some instructors will teach classes outside, and spring sports are in full-swing.

However, the spring is also a great time to cruise some college fairs. The National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) will be hosting their National College Fairs through the beginning of May and, in this region, you have several opportunities to attend. Fairs will be hosted in Hartford on April 3rd and 4th, New York on April 22nd, New Jersey on April 25th and 26th, Providence on April 28th, and in Boston on May 3rd and 4th.

Keep in mind, these fairs are huge – typically, you will find a couple hundred colleges in attendance. High schools from around the state will bus groups of students in during the day-time events and it will get crowded. You have limited time and you want to make the most of it. Here’s a couple tips if you elect to attend one of these fairs:

1. Have a plan before you enter the fair. In other words, know which schools you have to see and which ones you want to see. You will only have so much time at the fair before you need to leave or before it’s over. Make the most of that time.

2. Develop a list of questions you want to ask each school so that you can take notes and compare answers after the fair. Get all of your questions answered and make a connection with the admissions counselors who are representing the schools you are most interested in. There’s a good chance, these people will be the ones who will be reading your application.

3. Print your name, address, contact information, graduation year, intended major, GPA and test scores (if you have them already) on labels. Colleges will have inquiry cards for you to fill out and it’s a better use of your time to go with a label than it is to fill out all of this information by hand.

4. Pick up a directory when you enter the fair. Again, these fairs are very big and very crowded. You want to be able to easily find your have-to’s and your want-to’s. If there’s time left over, cruise the aisles and see if there are any schools that you might have overlooked. You will want to grab a bag when you enter the fair as well for all the materials you will be taking home with you.

5. If you are attending the fair with friends as part of a school trip, enjoy the bus ride to and from the fair with them. When you’re at the fair, you should be all business. I can’t tell you how many times I worked a fair and saw students who were treating it like a field trip. Attending a college fair isn’t about a day off from school, it’s about your future!

If you have any thoughts you would like to share on making the most of college fairs, please use the comment box below. You can also email me directly at eric@doblercollegeconsulting.com.

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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