Attending college fairs can be very overwhelming. With the upcoming Jacksonville NACAC National College Fair, and others like it across the state and country, we wanted to share some advice to help make your college fair experience as productive as possible. Below are a few tips to help you out:
- Bring a list of questions with you
College fairs can get crazy! It can be very easy to get caught up in the hype and forget why you’re really there… to find a school that is the right “fit” for you. Be prepared. We recommend jotting down a few important questions before you go. We often hear parents and students say, “I don’t know what questions to ask.” Well, here are a few suggestions:
- What are your admission requirements?
- How much is your tuition?
- Do you have [fill in the blank] major?
- Pre-register/Bring address labels
The NACAC National College Fairs allow students to pre-register for the event. When you do so, you are given a barcode that contains all of your contact information. The representatives at the college booths you choose to visit will use a special scanner to retrieve this information. This saves time that you would have spent filling out an information card. You can also register at the event, but the line to do so is usually pretty long. If you are attending a college fair that does not offer this option, an alternative is to print a sheet (or two) of address labels to bring with you. Include your full name, date of birth, address, phone number and email address on the label. Also add the name and location of your high school, your graduation year, intended major and areas of interest. Not only will this will save you time (and hand cramps) when filling out information cards, it ensures the representative will be able to read your information. (Have you seen your handwriting?!)
- Take a minute to plan your approach
Many college fairs will provide either a list of schools in attendance or a map of the fair (or both). Before jumping into the madness, take a minute to plan. Break the schools into tiers of importance, for example: ‘Must visit’, ‘Should visit’, and ‘Might visit’. If they give you a map that shows you where each table is located, take time to find and label the schools you want to see. This will help ensure you get to see all of your top tiered schools. Then, if time permits, you can explore schools that you had not considered originally.
- Listen to other people’s questions
A good way to know what types of questions to ask, and to find out what a school has to offer, is to listen to other students ask their questions. They might be asking a question you didn’t even think of!
- Bring a few of bags to put materials in
Many fairs will provide you with a bag to carry the materials you pick up. If you want to be really organized, bring multiple bags (one for each tier of importance that you identified). Sometimes, students aren’t sure what they should pick up at a table. If a school has multiple books or brochures on their table, each serves a unique purpose. We suggest that you try to grab one of each brochure the college is displaying. By putting the materials in separate bags based off of your tier preference, it will make it easy to sort everything out when you get back home.
- Be yourself! (most importantly!)
This is one of the most exciting times of your life you should enjoy it! Take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to speak up. Recruiters love the opportunity to get to know you, even if it is only for a couple of minutes at a college fair. Always take a second to introduce yourself before you begin asking questions. That simple gesture can make a lasting impression.
We hope to see you at one of the many college fairs we will be attending. And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. #Swoop