Top Tips for College Fairs

Our #1 tip for students is to take advantage of college fairs at their high school and within their town or local area. These fairs provide an open, direct and FREE line to colleges and allow you to learn some of the basics BEFORE committing to a campus visit and all that entails. But first, as in most everything, do your homework and decide which schools are of interest, in range, (if you are a C student with low SAT scores why waste a visit to Harvard’s booth) then research what each school offers in your main area of academic interest.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE COLLEGE FAIR CIRCUIT

Step 1: Inquiries

  • Check in with your high school guidance counselor to get information on college visit dates at your high school.
  • The following link lists 57 national college fairs happening between October 2017 and May 2018 in the U.S.: https://www.gotomyncf.com/Registration/EventSelectForState?stateName=All
  • Other smaller college fairs that tour the U.S. that we suggest are:
    • Exploring College Options(Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, Penn, Stanford)
    • Exploring Educational Excellence(Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Rice)
    • Coast to Coast(Dartmouth, Northwestern, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt)
    • VTV Joint Travel (Vanderbilt, Tufts, Vassar)
    • Coalition App Joint Travel:(Colby College, University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis)
  • There is an international college fair each spring for international students. The spring 2018 date is April 29, 2018 and the fair will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia: https://www.nacacfairs.org/attend/international-universities-fair/vancouver-international-universities-fair/

Step 2: Research

  • If your school doesn’t offer college fairs, reach out to admissions offices and ask if the appropriate rep will be in your area and try to meet for a cup of coffee. Ivies are not going to be receptive to this as they are simply too busy, but schools such as Emory, Vanderbilt, and smaller liberal arts schools likely will be. It doesn’t hurt to try.
    • If not, CampusTours.com, eCampusTours.com and YouVisit.com each have free virtual tours of most top colleges. Check out Niche.com
  • Research schools before a college fair: Have an interest in Colgate, art history AND they are going to be at your school’s upcoming college fair. Take ten minutes to research the art history department. In two minutes, we found out they have two galleries and an anthropology museum. (http://www.colgate.edu/academics/departments-and-programs/art-and-art-history).
    • Be prepared with 1 or 2 clear questions about something specific and academic that points to your interests for when you meet the admissions rep (he/she is typically the one who will be reviewing your file when you apply) ask something like: “I’m so impressed with your art history department and the possibility of being involved …  do undergrads ever have the opportunity to curate at the Clifford Gallery at Colgate?”
    • OR more specifically: “I read about a student who worked with Professor Smith on a public installation. Are students often able to become involved in actual installations?

Step 3: Maintain Organization

  • Create a spreadsheet in advance to track everyone you meet, email or talk to who is connected with your targeted colleges.
    • Get business cards or at least email addresses, so you can send emails later if you have questions! These are typically the admissions reps who cover your school and will eventually be advocating for you or not in front of their committee.

Step 4: Be Memorable

  • Become familiar with how you present your “demonstrated interest” to your targeted colleges. “Demonstrated interest” is a way in which colleges assess a student’s interest in not just applying to a school, but in attending.
    • The concept of an applicant’s “demonstrated interest” has been widely discussed in recent years and most especially in the past few months. Many colleges now are tracking “touch points” –college visits, face to face connections at college fairs, signing up for a college’s mailing list or eNewsletter (here is the mailing list signup for Tufts to show you an example: https://ugrad.admissions.tufts.edu/register/mailing-list), thank you notes received, sign-in sheets for on-campus tours, even social media likes, posts and photos.

**TOP TIP straight from Maria Laskaris, former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Dartmouth, now Senior Private Counselor here at TTA –print out labels with your name, contact info, graduation year, and high school for sign in sheets to ensure your name and email are legible and your interest is noted.

college admissions fair sign

COLLEGE FAIR CHEAT SHEET

  1. RESEARCH: Do your research in advance of meeting college reps at your school or at college fairs.
  2. GET ORGANIZED: Enter college fair dates and opportunities to meet campus reps at school into your personal calendar now. Register for fairs if there is the opportunity to do so.
  3. SIGN IN: Definitely sign up to visit with/see the presentations of schools of interest if they have a sign-in sheet as they track “demonstrated interest.” Bring those printed labels with your name, contact info, and high school including your graduation year to stick onto all sign-in sheets versus hand-writing.
  4. MORE ORGANIZATION: Create a spreadsheet for names and emails as well as points that stood out, etc.
  5. ASK AN INFORMED QUESTION: Hang back after presentations are over, and once the rep is free you can shake hands and let him or her know you are very interested in their school, in particular because of the art history department, etc….. Offer added details and ask pointed questions about the department you’ll apply to.
  6. CONTACTS: Get business cards for all of the admissions reps you meet for future reference.
  7. REACH OUT: Follow up with appropriate admissions officers with an email to thank them for chatting with you and maybe cite something you spoke about…”Thanks for filling me in on the opportunities to curate student art shows…. “
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