The past year has limited all of our ability to visit colleges, but colleges are participating in virtual college fairs, which give them the opportunity to share information and reach out to students online. Now it’s up to YOU to take advantage of these opportunities! Many organizations are hosting virtual college fairs to present a variety of colleges to help students and parents learn about them.
Who Should Attend Virtual College Fairs?
If you’re a high school sophomore or junior, you should be attending virtual college fairs! They are free. They help you see beyond the colleges you know – and this is an important way to help you learn more about your options as you build your college list. Most 10th and 11th grade parents want us to help them narrow down their college lists. We actually do the opposite – we make the list BIGGER before we make it smaller! That’s because most people looking for an independent educational consultant come to us with a list of very selective colleges with low admit rates. We help them balance their lists. This means you need more colleges on your list than you think!
Why Should You Attend Virtual College Fairs?
Some colleges – NOT ALL – some colleges consider how much interest you show in them, as you’re going through your college search. This is hard for most people to believe, but colleges are operating a business. They have to fill their freshman class to make their budget, and pay for all of the awesome things they fund on their campus. Some colleges factor into their admission decision the probability that each student they admit will actually enroll. So the more connection you can build with each college on your list, the better. This is called “demonstrated interest,” and it can include attending a virtual college fair, signing up to be on a college’s outreach list, reaching out by e-mail to the admission counselor who reads your high school or region, or visiting campus.
Many colleges also track whether or not you open their marketing e-mails. I know your inbox is full of e-mails you haven’t read – many of them from colleges you aren’t interested in. Here’s our advice: clean out that inbox! Unsubscribe from colleges you have absolutely no interest in. And open e-mails from other colleges just to check them out. PLEASE NOTE: most highly selective colleges – the ones with admit rates under about 20% – do not consider these types of demonstrated interest. But they may ask you to write what we call the “Why Us?” essay when you apply, which means you’ll need to have a really good reason for why you and that school are a great match for each other. You could learn some great information at a virtual college fair that could help you respond to this question!
As you’re researching colleges online, here are a few resources to help you:
What Virtual College Fairs Should You Attend?
These upcoming virtual college fairs are open to all students:
February 20 – Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Fair
February 25 – the Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps Colleges) are hosting this joint information session.
March 3, March 14, April 19 – this virtual college fair, hosted by the Western Assn. for College Admission Counseling, also has multiple sessions with different topics to guide you through your college search, as well as college information sessions. Colleges all over the country are participating!
March 7 – STEM College Fair hosted by NACAC, the National Assn. for College Admission Counseling
March 8-9 – this virtual college fair, hosted by Texas Assn. for College Admission Counseling, has sessions with topics related to college admission, as well as sessions with multiple colleges each presenting a bit of information and available for questions. Colleges all over the country are participating!
March 16 – Visual and Performing Arts College Fair, hosted by NACAC, the National Assn. for College Admission Counseling
We hope you have the opportunity to explore some of the 2,200 four-year colleges in the United States through virtual college fairs. They’re much less expensive than the alternative! Take advantage and learn more about the many colleges throughout the U.S. this spring!