So your school is hosting its annual college fair. Or maybe it’s a fair sponsored by a group of schools or your county. Either way, you FINALLY get the opportunity to meet the admissions rep for your region from your favorite institution! It doesn’t matter if you’re from California, Florida, Brazil, or Singapore. It doesn’t really matter what type of college or university you’re interested in. For any student attending a college fair, there are some key things that can make the interaction between you and your rep a great experience. From the beginning, determine school-specific information you want to walk away with at the end of the fair. After all, the college fair is for you!
Before the Fair
Do Your Research
Get a list of colleges and universities that will be at the fair. When you know which schools will be present, you have the opportunity to prioritize. Make it a point to speak with reps that represent institutions that you are most interested in. Lines at the fair can be long, so you want to make sure you’re waiting on the one that matters most in case you don’t get to visit every one!
Additionally, knowing the schools beforehand will allow you to do some preliminary research. You should come prepared with targeted questions, which will likely lead to better conversation.
It’s just the beginning of the process. Your conversations with reps at the college fair (and resources like this website) will build upon what you initially discover. Instead, you want to obtain a depth of information about an aspect of the school with which you are already familiar. That’s the secret to asking great questions when you’re face-to-face with the rep.
During the Fair
Listen to What’s Happening Around You
Ok, you’re almost at the table. The rep is in sight and at ear’s reach. Listen to what your classmates are asking. Chances are you may have the same question or the rep may touch on something related to your inquiry. From experience, I can tell you that I have answered the question “Can I double-major in different schools at NYU?” several dozen times in a single fair. If you hear someone near you ask that question, that provides an opportunity for you to then ask specifically about majors in which you are interested. An example is “What are the chances of me being able to major in Dance and Computer Science?” Spoiler alert—not very likely.
It’s your turn now! You get to ask that well thought out, preplanned question that is specific to the institution the counselor represents. As much as possible, endeavor to inquire about things that really interest you. Time is limited—no need for fluff right now. Get to the heart of what’s important for you to know. Whether it’s academics, campus life, or study abroad opportunities—they’re all good topics to ask your rep.
Side note: Yes, the purpose of this interaction is to gain knowledge about the school. Just be mindful that others are in line for the same reason. Know when it’s time to move on. *wink wink*
Have a Conversation
It’s OK to just let it flow. While I highly recommend knowing in advance what you want to learn about the institution and having a few questions prepared, I also suggest being open to allowing a conversation to take place. Your rep may introduce information that you have never given any thought. Their response to your initial question may pique your interest in something else. Go with it! Enjoy the conversation. Allow it to develop organically.
Most Importantly, Have Fun
You’re excited and you’re nervous. Maybe a little fatigued from all the waiting and talking. We get it. Take a breath if you have to. Collect your thoughts. Yes, remember the tips on eye contact, but also just enjoy the conversation.
Please, don’t be offended if I don’t shake your hand. I know that might sound contrary to what you’d expect, but handshakes (and college fairs) are the quickest way for germs to spread. And I’m trying to keep us both healthy during flu season.
That doesn’t mean I’m not excited to speak with you. In fact, engaging in conversations with students like you is what I love most about my job. I can’t wait to answer your questions and help you find the right home at NYU. Don’t allow all the nerves to prevent you from accomplishing a set goal for your time at the event.
Your curiosity should last beyond the fair. A great conversation at the college fair should lead to more inquiry and more for you to research. Keep perusing college websites. Reach out to your college rep for more information if you need to. Ask the counselor at your school for assistance. Keep going!