What an exciting time for our juniors and seniors – the time of exploration and university application loom either in the distance or at hand. For juniors, it is a time of research and for seniors, the time is right now to complete the last bits of research if necessary. For juniors, this may be the first of one or more fairs, for seniors, this will be your last. So, how does one navigate the massive amount of schools represented at these fairs? How does one walk into the fair and look down upon row after row of table after table and decide upon which school to visit with? Well, let’s make this easier.
Before you go
Do your homework: Be sure to read about the schools on line, try not to ask any questions you can find on line. If you own any college handbooks, read about the schools in the college handbooks as well. You may craft some questions regarding the school from the website and handbooks and that is great.
Both juniors and seniors, you will be spending some time at the fair. Be sure to choose schools of interest to speak with. For seniors, this is the time to talk with the schools you are very serious about. Seniors, even if you know you are making application to a school and have not visited, this is a great time to touch base. Juniors, you should talk with schools you are curious about and might wish to visit. For the juniors, don’t worry if you don’t make it to all tables, but try to get cards from all the schools you want to speak with. Let’s try and make this efficient for you. Seniors will spend less time at the fair, as their list will be fewer schools.
Arrive early – these fairs can get crowded, they attract a lot of students and parents. The fairs are generally set up in alphabetical order, so don’t waste a lot of time walking up and down the aisles looking at all the schools, but, do ask how the schools are organized, as who knows, maybe a fair is organized differently.
While you probably have not written a letter in a while, your folks may have some return sticky labels for you. If they belong to a return label that do not have your name, but your address, cut off their name, and take the labels with you. That way, when you approach a table, you will be able to affix an address label to and just write your name on a query post card or list. While not a big time saver, every bit helps. Be sure your post -code is on the label.
While most schools will have bags as well as a lot of swag, bring your own bag. You have no idea when a bag will show up in the process. The bag will be helpful, as you will be given a lot of brochures, pens, mugs, etc.
Bring paper and pencil, or if you are comfortable, take notes on your iPhone. When I go to fairs, I do like to photograph booths and significant information, this is a place- holder for me. Be sure to get the name and address of the admissions officer present. If the person at the table is an alumni, find out several important pieces of information:
1. Is that person the one who gives the interviews (if you need an interview), or can you get additional information from this person?
2. Who is your admissions representative and what is the number of contact?
3. Be sure to take a card so you can write a letter of thanks or additional inquiry?
While some may prefer to record information using a smart device, I hesitate, as these devices may not work well in the crowd and noise.
Upon meeting the representatives from each school, smile, shake hands and introduce yourself: “Hi, my name is _____________________, I am from _________________ High School in Lakewood High School, I will graduate in _________________. I have an interest in your school with an interest in majoring in ____________________. Our time is limited I know, so what should I learn right now.
Questions to ask: Do I need to have an interview? How will that happen? How much wiggle room is there with the GPA and Board Scores? I am interested in Economics, with a lean towards Political Economy, am on the right track with your university? Or anything relevant beyond the website of the school. These questions are just samples.
After the fair
Read through the brochures of the schools that are relevant to your school search. If you can schedule a school visit, do so.
Go back through your information and notes. Follow up with the schools you have keen interest in making application. By following up, this means writing a note and this can be done either snail mail or email. Either way, this needs to be done properly (I do prefer mail):
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me at the (name the specific place and date of fair). I have a keen interest in making application to –name the specific school – I enjoyed discussing university life, particularly academic life and internships available at such and such a school.
If you have brochures you may not use, take them to your counseling office; they may appreciate the extra brochures.
Don’t be shy, if you have questions that you forgot to ask, or questions that come up later, you should call your rep. That’s what they get paid for.
This is the start of the ‘season’. Stay organized and focused, before you know it, you will be walking onto a campus of your choice!