Updated: Sep 10
Your teachers and advisors might have told you that going to the college fairs are important because you can learn about schools you might not have considered. They might have also mentioned that it also allows you to meet the school's representative.
I just went to a college fair hosted at a local high school in my area with one of my students. Two of the junior colleges provided bags for attendees to collect materials and we were provided a map/ list of the schools attending the event.
This was my first college fair to attend as a professional! So I was super excited. While waiting for my student, I was reviewing the map and marked the schools that she was interested in attending. This allowed us to move through the room in a strategic manner.
How to prep for a college fair?
If you don't know what schools will be attending, but you already have your college list narrowed down then research your top schools. If the host posts the list of schools, review the schools and research them!
Why? You want the representative to know that you are interested in the school. Walking up to a table does not show interest, it shows convenience. A couple of different sample questions you could ask to show a school you researched them but need to know more information:
Biola University - The girls dorms all have sorority names, does that mean that there are sororities at the school? I couldn't find any information on that and if not, how is the housing determined?
Cal State Long Beach - You have co-ed dorms. Do guys and girls live on the same floor or just in the same building? Are the bathrooms designated?
Azusa Pacific University - The campus is really large and I have heard about the bus to help students get from one half of the campus to the other. Are classes strategically planned so that you won't miss any due to traffic and timing?
Questions like these show that you know about the school and the campus and that you looked into what students have said about being at the school. The representative will then know that you are actually interested in knowing more about the school and trying to dig deeper. You want the representative to remember you.
I would avoid questions like these unless it is a school that you haven't heard of or didn't know was going to be there. Then you can approach the representative with an open mind with comments like, "I'm interested in adding you to my list, can you tell me more about ..." or "I haven't heard of this school before, can you tell me more about...". This allows the representative to know that they caught your attention there and that you weren't prepared with specific questions about this university.
This is a great prep-article with questions to consider.
Dress the part!
Ladies, you don't want to wear your jeans with holes in them, the butty shorts, or a dress/ shirt that has a v-neck all the way to your belly button. Gentlemen, same about the jeans, no holes, and no inappropriate images on your shirt.
You don't have to dress up like homecoming or a job interview (however, a job interview outfit would be perfect); but cover up your butts, stomaches, and cleavage.
Yes, that means wait in each schools' line that you're interested in. You need to meet each representative of all the schools you want to attend. By having interesting questions and looking the part, you will be memorable. Take any pamphlets or information that they have to offer about the school and fill out a form to leave your contact information/ email.
By taking information, you are showing that you will read more about the school. By leaving your contact information, you are showing that you want to learn more. You are showing interest.
Remember, this is not the end all, break all of the college application process. So, have fun and breathe!