College Fairs: An Awesome (and possibly overwhelming) Resource

Many high schools host college fairs in the fall and spring to introduce their students to colleges and visiting admissions staff members, and most high school college fairs have somewhere between 25 and 100 colleges represented.  But each spring and fall, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) hosts regional college fairs in major US cities.  Some of these fairs have over 300 colleges in attendance!  The list of dates and locations can be found here.

NACAC also hosts targeted college fairs, including one focused on the visual and performing arts and one focused on the sciences and STEM fields.  These specialized fairs are generally in the fall, and dates have not been announced for this year yet.

Tips for Making College Fairs More Productive and Less Intimidating

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you and your student get the most out of the college fairs you attend:

  • Register in advance for NACAC fairs.  The NACAC fair registration system will create a barcode for you, which you can print out and bring to the fair.  Each college representative will have a barcode scanner, and when they scan your registration ticket, you can instantly be added to their mailing list!
  • Print out a list of the colleges that will attend the fair in advance.  Go through the list and highlight the colleges you really want to meet and speak to.  Don’t just go up and down every row!  You might miss something if you get overwhelmed by the size and give up in the middle!
  • Print out a sheet of address labels with your student’s name, address, e-mail address, and year of high school graduation (ie. Class of 2019).  Instead of filling out individual postcards for each college, which can take time away from connecting with the college reps, you can simply place a label on each postcard and keep on moving!
  • Many colleges do consider how many times students have been in contact with them when they review applications.  Meeting and chatting with a college rep at a college fair counts!  This is why you should let the student (not parent) take the lead when talking with college admission representatives.  The student is the one applying to college – and the student is really the one that colleges want to hear from.

Visiting colleges is another great way to get the feel for a college campus and think about whether or not it could be a good fit.  We’ve published a few blog posts on this topic in the past – here’s a short video blog and here’s a post with some downloadable resources and advice for your college vists.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us!


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