Attending a College Fair
Attending a College Fair is a great opportunity for students to explore schools and programs available to them after high school. Representatives attend and present information for students to review and learn which schools and programs satisfy their academic, financial and social requirements. Participating schools at a College Fair may include: four-year Colleges and Universities; two-year Community Colleges with Transfer Pathways; Art, Design and Technical Institutes; and Military Academies.
Faring Well at College Fairs
Before The Fair
- Find out which colleges will be attending and write down the names of the ones you want to learn about.
- If you have time, research these colleges, especially ones you have not heard of or considered before. (CCC, Naviance, Big Future or the college’s own website)
- Create a short list of questions to ask admission representatives. Plan on asking the same questions at each table, so that you can compare colleges. Questions should be unique to your interests and not easily found in standard college materials (examples below.)
- Both students and parents are encouraged to attend, but make sure the students do most of the talking (or even walk around separately from their parents.) It can be helpful to get a second opinion on your impressions of particular colleges and you might ask different questions.
- Bring your list of colleges & questions, pen, notebook and a bag (to hold college brochures.)
- Consider bringing a few self-adhesive address labels pre-printed with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), extracurricular activities you’re interested in. At the fair, stick labels on the college information cards to save time filling out the same information at each table. (Make sure your email address won’t embarrass you - college admission officers will see it.)
At The Fair
- Look at the map or survey the room and plan your route.
- Visit the admission reps and ask questions.
- Write down your impressions and the answers you were given before you visit the next table, while your thoughts are still fresh.
- Leave time to browse. Speak to many reps, and try not to focus just on “known” schools. You may find one you’ve never heard of that offers the exact major, extracurricular program, etc., that you want.
When You Get Home
- Ask yourself which colleges stood out and why.
- Organize the college material you collected and review it while it’s fresh in your mind.
- Go over any notes you took during the fair.
- Recycle pamphlets of colleges you’ve ruled out.
- Do more research on the colleges you’re thinking about. Explore websites, contact the admission office or plan a campus visit. If you liked what you saw at the fair, it may be time to see the college in person.
- Update your “Colleges I’m Thinking About” list on Naviance.
- If you still have questions, consider contacting your school College & Career Center Specialist and meeting to review your findings. You can ask the CCC Specialist questions and make a College Application Plan.
Questions to Ask at a College Fair
- Do you offer my planned major?
- What are the most popular majors?
- How easy is it to change major?
- Do most freshmen live on campus?
- What's your average class size? (How big are the largest classes?)
- How easy is it for undergrads to do research?
- Do graduate students teach classes?
- How easy is it to get to campus from the Bay Area?
- What scholarships do you offer for incoming freshmen?
- Special out-of-state rates for California students? (WUE)
- Do you help students find internships or jobs in their fields
- Do you offer academic counseling and support services?
Helpful Tips When Asking Questions
- If interested in learning the main interests of the majority of students, ask “what are the most popular majors?” rather than “how many people are in the freshman class?”
- If considering a particular major, ask: how many students take that major; what research faculty members are involved in (and opportunities for undergraduates to participate); or what courses you would take your first year in a particular major. You should try not to ask “how good is major X?” College reps will not tell you that a program is bad - their goal is to promote all programs.
- Students who are undecided should ask about what services and support are available to help them explore various majors.
- Other things you can ask about: extracurricular activities; what kinds of students the college is looking for; what percentage of students receive financial aid; and other concerns unique to your interests and situation.
- For a list of additional questions you can ask a College or University Rep, feel free to review "25 Questions to Ask a College." (Source: San Jose State University Admissions.)
Thank you to the CUHSD Ed Foundation for the information above. The page content is adapted from original as written by Jennifer Gross Copyright © 2003 National Association for College Admission Counseling and the College Board.