The start of school marks the arrival of another important fall ritual: college fairs, which are gatherings of representatives from colleges. Typically, the representatives will have tables on which they’ll display brochures and materials from the college. Some fairs are limited to local or in-state colleges, while others include schools from all over the country.
Fairs enable students and parents to gather information and talk with admissions officers in a single place, rather than having to travel all over the country to visit college campuses. They also allow students to demonstrate interest in colleges, and this is a factor in the admissions process of many institutions.
While college fairs are a great opportunity, they also can be overwhelming. Some include representatives from over 200 colleges and can have hundreds or even thousands of attendees. By following these simple steps, you can make the fairs less intimidating and maximize your time at them.
Before the fair:
- Check out the fair’s website.
- Register if required.
- Look at the list of participating colleges and decide whose tables you want to visit.
- See if information sessions are being offered. Many fairs include sessions on such topics as the application process and financial aid. Decide which sessions you’ll attend, if any, and register if required.
- Make a list of questions to ask admissions officers.
- Bring a pen and paper and a bag in which to put brochures. (Sometimes bags are provided but not always.)
At the fair:
- Get a map or survey the room to figure out how colleges’ tables are arranged (i.e., alphabetically, geographically) and make a plan for your route.
- If there is a long line at a table for a college you’re interested in, go on to another one and come back.
- Introduce yourself to the admissions officer and ask a few questions, but don’t spend more than a few minutes talking to the person. Remember that there are other people waiting.
- Collect brochures that look interesting and, if offered, fill out a card with your name and contact information. (This is another way to demonstrate interest in a college.)
- Ask for the admissions officer’s business card.
- Make notes about each conversation before going on to another college’s table.
After the fair:
- Organize your notes and brochures.
- Read your notes and brochures and decide which colleges are still of interest to you.
- Throw out any information from colleges you’ve ruled out (or better yet, recycle).
- For colleges in which you’re still interested, email the admissions officers you talked to, thank them for their time, and ask any follow-up questions you have. (This is yet another way to demonstrate interest.)
- Research the colleges in which you’re still interested. Visit their websites, read about them in college guidebooks, talk to students you know who attend them, etc.
Upcoming College Fairs: The following is a list of upcoming fairs in the Denver area. Click on the links to go to the fairs’ websites for locations, times, lists of participating colleges, and registration information (if registration is required). The Colleges That Change Lives and NACAC fairs make many stops around the country, so if you don’t live in Denver, check the website to see if there these fairs will be held in your hometown.
- Colleges That Change Lives: Tuesday, Aug. 26 in Denver
- Christian College Fairs
- Colorado Springs: Monday, September 22
- Highlands Ranch: Tuesday, September 23
- Loveland: Wednesday, September 24
- Arvada: Thursday, September 25
- Greater Denver College Fairs
- Highlands Ranch: Saturday, October 11
- Louisville: Wednesday, October 15
- Denver: Thursday, October 16
- National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) National College Fair: Saturday, October 18
- NACAC Performing and Visual Arts College Fair