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Making a Good Impression at a College Fair

In her September 2 blog post, “Mark Your Calendar for Fall 2012 College Fairs in Colorado“, educational consultant Cara Ray provided a list of college fairs in Colorado this fall.  Now that you know when the fairs are, it’s important to understand how to approach a college fair in order to make a good impression and get the most out of it.

At most colleges, admissions representatives are assigned to a specific region of the country.  Chances are that an admissions representative you meet at a college fair is the rep assigned to your region, and he or she may be the first or only person to read your application, should you choose to apply.  Additionally, representatives meet countless students at college fairs, so doing what you can to stand out from the crowd and make a good impression is key.

First, give some thought to what you’ll wear to the fair.  While you don’t need to show up in a three-piece suit, it’s also not a good idea to wear ripped jeans or an old, ratty t-shirt.  Think about what you would wear to a job interview, and that’s probably a good outfit for a college fair.  For the boys, I’d recommend khakis or dress pants and a polo-style or button-down shirt.  Girls should wear khakis or dress pants or a skirt that reaches your knees, along with a nice shirt or blouse.  A dress is okay, too.  And girls, make sure you don’t wear anything too revealing or low-cut.

When you approach an admissions representative at a fair, make sure to introduce yourself with your first and last name.  You might also say where you live and what high school you attend.

Next, ask the representative questions.  You should try to make your questions specific, rather than asking questions whose answers easily can be found on the college’s website or in the brochures that you get at the fair.  It’s a good idea to write some questions down before the fair so that you can refer to them when talking to an admissions rep.  Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What makes your college different from other colleges?
  • I’m interested in ____ major.  What are some unique opportunities or programs offered for students with that major?
  • I’d like to get involved in ____ (activity) in college.  Can you tell me about opportunities for this activity on your campus?
  • Are there a lot of students from my state/area?  What would attract someone from my state/area to your college?
  • Can you tell me about special programs and opportunities for freshmen?
  • Are you the admissions representative for this region?  (If not, ask who is and ask for that person’s business card or contact information.  Then, send him or her an email and say you attended the fair and ask any additional questions you have.)

Doing some research before the fair can help you come up with additional questions.  You usually can find out ahead of time what colleges will be at a fair by looking up the fair online.  Then, you can identify colleges you’re interested in, check out their websites, and make a list of questions.

As you’re talking with admissions representatives or immediately afterwards, make some notes so you’ll remember what they told you.  When you finish speaking with them, thank them for their time.  It also can’t hurt to send a follow-up email, especially if you have further questions.  This can help representatives remember you, which, if you’ve made a good impression, will work in your favor when they read your application.

For more information about college fairs, see “How to Get the Most Out of Your College Fair“, “How to Stand Out at a College Fair“, and “Advice for College Fairs“.

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