There are a staggering number of options for post-secondary education out there. So, narrowing down the list to a few colleges of interest can keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Today at New Hampton, we hosted our annual Fall Mini College Fair with over 40 schools. On Sunday evening, prior to the fair, our students attended a panel with college admission representatives and received helpful tips in order to maximize their experience.
Below is some of the information that was shared and gathered regarding college fairs and visits.
What is a College Fair?
45 colleges and universities from all over the country will have the chance to chat with our juniors and seniors. For many of our students, especially the juniors, the college fair is the first step of the college process. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about new schools you have never heard of. For our seniors, it is often an opportunity to connect with the person that will read their application on the other side of the desk.
For many students, a college fair can quite intimidating, especially if you are just starting the process or are not sure what you are looking for in a college. Here are a few tips to make it a little easier.
1. Dress the part
While you certainly do not have to show up in a suit and tie, be sure that you are representing yourself well with your attire. A clean and professional outfit will show that you have respect for the college process. You do not want to be the person remembered for their outfit choice!
2. Keep your cool
Admission officers love to chat with students! It’s why they chose that job in the first place. When chatting with a school of interest, be respectful but casual. Remember, they are just as interested in making a good impression on you as you are on them. Treat it more like a conversation and you will feel less anxious about it all.
3. Ask questions
College reps do not expect you to know anything about their schools. They come to the fairs hoping to share that information with you. But, you should have a few questions to get the conversation started and they should be ones that are not readily found on an FAQ page of their website. Still not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas!
- Are you an alumnus of the school and if yes, why did you choose that college? If not, what do you like most about working there?
- What programs are unique to your school?
- What do students do for fun on the weekend? Do they tend to stay on campus or head into the local area?
- While many schools will post a student to faculty ratio, it can be helpful to know what the average intro class size is. You can also ask what is the largest class on campus and what percentage of the classes are close to that size.
- For students who will be applying for financial aid, what is the average amount of debt a student on financial aid graduates with?
- What are some of the fun traditions offered at this school?
4. Come with an open mind
A lot of students will have an idea of what they want and will be unwilling to look beyond those parameters. If you are in the early stages of the process, you do not want to close any doors. This is the information gathering stage. The more information you have now, the better off you will be later, once you have a better idea of what matters to you most in the college search.
In the college admission process, it’s important to do your research and keep an open mind. Building connections with college admission officers, asking thoughtful questions, and learning about options is a great way to begin. We were lucky to have many colleges represented at our college fair, and our students did a wonderful job representing themselves and learning about the various schools presented, as well as making sure to introduce themselves to the officers representing schools already on their list.