College fairs are a great way for students and parents to learn more about universities, however, they can be very overwhelming. At these events you can make the most of your time, get to know colleges and make meaningful connections with admissions counselors and college representatives if you do these eight things to prepare!
1. Do Your Research
Want to live close to the beach? Are you interested in an all-star baseball team? Worried about tuition costs? Talk with your family and think about what your top priorities are beforehand. It may be helpful to make a list and prepare questions you want answered to save time.
2. Organize Yourself and Prepare Contact Information
Make sure to bring a binder or folder to keep all of your information organized. Our job as admissions counselors is to help guide you through the school selection and application process. It would be a shame if you found a school or admissions counselor you really liked and lost their contact information. Also, save yourself the time and pain of handwriting your contact information on interest cards. Prepare a sticky label with your name, contact information, date of birth, and year of graduation. This way we can keep in touch and send you the correct information for application deadlines, upcoming events and important updates specific to you.
3. Keep an Open Mind
You may find some schools that you never considered as a choice. There are so many options out there! Talk to schools you do not know much about and keep an open mind. I would never have ended up at my Alma mater if I hadn’t been open to changing my original plan.
4. Arrive Early
While attending a party fashionably late can be a social strategy, the opposite is true for college fairs. Come early, check out the scene, and then decide who you are going to talk to. You’ll have an advantage by getting more one-on-one time with counselors, allowing you to meet more people and get more questions answered!
5. Introduce Yourself and Exchange Information
One of the best parts of my job is meeting new people. Please introduce yourself and let us get to know you! A firm handshake is always a nice touch. Like I said, it’s our job to help you through this process, so if you aren’t sure what to ask, that’s ok! We’re just as good at asking questions as we are at answering them. If you find a college counselor you really like, ask for their business card and give them your information. It shows that you are personable and making an effort to find the best choice for your future college career. Plus, creating a relationship with your admissions counselor early will mean that you’re better prepared and ahead of the game.
6. Ask Questions to Get the Answers You are Looking For
Don’t let us do all the talking. Take the time to think about questions that prompt meaningful information you couldn’t get from a website or brochure. Try asking questions that do not involve a yes or no answer. Also, keep in mind, this is your college experience; don’t hide behind your parents.
I love hearing from students I met at a college fair! Send thank you cards or e-mails with follow up questions. It makes you stand out from the crowd. And believe me, we admissions counselors are often more willing to advocate for students they remember well.
8. Take time to Reflect
There is a lot of information exchange at college fairs. Take time after the event to organize your thoughts and contact information. You can make a spreadsheet and rank your schools by your interest level so you know where to focus your next steps.
PSU Admissions representatives visit high schools, community colleges and participate in college fairs regionally, nationally, and internationally throughout the year. Select your region and see when a PSU representative will be near you!