If you have a teenager, you know nothing is simple. So imagine the chaos when I told my son, “We’re going to a college fair this weekend.” His first response was, “We went last year.” Well apparently he doesn’t know his mother, cause guess who’s going again this year. So to make the experience less gruesome and overwhelming and a bit easier to digest, I have devised a sure-fire way to effectively conquer any college fair. Here’s what I’ve learned and have tasked my son with.
Before you go:
1. Print/ bring your registration. Some fairs require a registration where the student provides their information. Upon registration, a barcode is produced that can be scanned by each school, to be used for future correspondence. You can print this barcode or save it to any smartphone or tablet.
2. Visit the site to find a list of the schools attending.
3. Research each school. See which school offers majors of interest, sports programs and extracurricular activities
4. Print the floor plan (if available). This will make navigating the hundreds of schools easier and cut down your time in the hall. Most important, keep you from having to kill your technology crazed kid.
5. Prepare questions. Two or three (at least) that may have not been covered in your research.
1. Dress the part. I’m not saying go in a suit and tie, but be presentable (these days many teens don’t seem to know what presentable means). I told my son at least a nice pair of jeans (preferably khakis) and a polo shirt.
2. Go early. Yes, the early bird gets the worm, but more importantly, the reps are more alert and excited to speak with you. Don’t forget, if you knock it out early you have the rest of your day free. (always a selling point in my house)
3. Know the questions you want answered. Remember there are thousands of students and parents looking at the same schools. The time you have in front of the representative is limited. Know what you want to ask and sound confident when asking. Remember first impressions are lasting.
4. Be prepared to take notes. Many think of a college fair as a typical trade show, where they will just collect a bunch of papers and pamphlets. While this may be true, if you come prepared to ask questions you need to also be prepared to record the answer. Keep in mind there is no way you can remember the very different and important responses from each school.
5. Don’t attend in groups. Teens are easily distracted; perusing the isles of a college fair can easily turn into fun time if there are too many friends together at once. Additionally, it’s more difficult for each person to have their questions answered if they are attending booths in large groups. Keep them focused, if they go early, they’ll have plenty of time afterwards to chill with friends.
To find out about College fairs in your area talking to your child’s guidance counselor is best. For convenience, check these links as well:
Any additional college listings or tips you’d like to share please list them in the comments and I will do my best to add them to this post.