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Preparing to Attend A College Fair

A college fair is a great place and way of learning about many different schools, all under the same roof. While there, you’ll be able to gather information on potential colleges from college representatives who are scouting for students that would fit well at their schools.

Be prepared and put your best foot forward

  • Dress for success. You don’t need to show up in a three-piece suit, it’s also not a good idea to wear ripped or saggy jeans; old, torn t-shirt or outfits that reveal too much. Think about what you would wear to a job interview, and that’s probably a good outfit for a college fair.

  • For the boys, khakis or dress pants and a polo-style or button-down shirt.

  • Girls should wear khakis or dress pants or a skirt that reaches your knees, along with a nice shirt or blouse. A dress is okay, too. And girls, make sure you don’t wear anything too revealing or low-cut.

  • Representatives meet hundreds of students at college fairs, so do what you can to stand out from the crowd and make a good impression.

  • Come up with a list of questions, a pen, notebook and a bag to hold any brochures you may pick up.

  • Make several packets of information about you in case you apply onsite. In your packet, include, two letters of recommendation (one from a teacher and one from someone in the community that knows you), a sample essay you’ve written, your transcript and a copy of your SAT or ACT scores. Make sure your information is in folder so that it is neat and presentable. You never know, you could be admitted on the spot!

List your questions

  • When you approach an admissions representative at the college fair, make sure to introduce yourself with your first and last name. You might also say where you live and what high school you attend.

  • Create a list of questions you have for the representatives. Don’t be shy! They are there to talk to you and answer all of your questions! Feel free to ask about anything from academic requirements for admission to what life on campus is like on their college campuses.

Research which schools will be there

  • Before the actual day, check out the fair’s website to see which colleges will be there. Scan through the list of colleges and universities that will be represented. Make a note of the schools that interest you the most, and plan to visit their booths.

Are you looking for colleges that are close to home, or those that are far away? Are you interested in small, private schools, or large, public universities? Which of the institutions in attendance offer your projected major? If there is a school that you are certain about and are really interested in, make visiting that booth a priority.Do not put limitations on yourself, learn about other schools too.

Learn About the Process

  • Regardless of which school you decide to attend, you will probably need to know: Does the school require college entrance exams? What score do they accept for admission? What do admission officers look for in a college essay, if one is required?

  • Each fair also includes a counseling center, oftentimes an invaluable resource for students with specialized interests.

Map it out

  • Locate the colleges you decided you wanted to learn about and plan a route so you can easily get to all of them. Instead of focusing on collecting a brochure from every college booth, make it your goal to have in-depth conversations with a few of the college reps on hand.

  • Come to the college fair with a list of questions so that you are ready for the opportunity.

  • If you’re interested in a specific program, like social work, ask the college reps what sets their social work program apart from other schools.

  • Visit schools that are not on your list. Even though you had specific colleges in mind, check on some that weren’t on your list. It never hurts to try something new!

Follow Up

  • Write down the names of the schools you’d like to spend time learning more about. Ask the college reps for their contact information and be sure to follow up. Oftentimes, the representative that is attending the college fair may be who processes and reads your application. Be sure to keep in touch with them and show interest. For the colleges you want to know more about, schedule campus visits. Write down the names of the schools you’d like to spend time learning more about.

Helpful Tips for When the College Fair is Over


  • Reflect on which of the schools stood out to you. Why did they stand out? What was it so significant? Did they offer your desired major?

Organize your notes

  • Stay focused on the schools that stood out and that you liked best. Organize your notes along with any brochures and information you picked up while at the fair. Keep them in a safe place to reference back to during your college search process. Throw away or recycle any information from schools you’ve ruled out and are not interested in.

Learn more about the top schools you’ve chosen

  • Your trip to a college fair is the beginning of your college search. If there is a school you are interested in, make sure that you schedule a campus tour. The campus tour will give you a better feel and help to determine if it’s the best fit for you.

  • Keep researching the colleges you really liked. Check admission requirements to see if attending the school is a reality. If so, be familiar with application and financial aid deadlines so that you don’t miss out.

Share your experience

  • The college decision is a big one and can be overwhelming and you’ll need all the support you can get! Be sure to openly discuss with your parents and/or guardian or whomever is helping you about the fair. Oftentimes, parents/guardians are left out of the loop, they won’t know how to support you if you don’t talk about it.

Check Your Email

  • Colleges usually communicate and send correspondence via email or regular U.S. Postal mail. If you gave your contact information to any of the school representatives while you were at the fair be sure to check your email for important updates and information. Be sure to forward any correspondence to your parent/guardian or whomever is helping you with getting into college.

Sample Questions to ask at a College Fair or While on a Campus Tour

When talking to the representatives, you should try to make your questions specific. Try not to ask questions that you can Google and find on the school’s website. It’s a great idea to write some questions down before the fair so that you can refer to them when talking to an admissions rep. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What makes your college different from other colleges?

  • I’m interested in ____ major. What are some unique opportunities or programs offered for students with that major? Are there any specific scholarships from that department?

  • I’d like to get involved in ____ (activity) in college. Can you tell me about opportunities for this activity on your campus? (ie. Greek Life, Sports, Clubs)

  • Are there a lot of students from my state/area that attend your school? What would you say attracts someone from my state/area to your college?

  • Can you tell me about special programs and opportunities for freshmen?

  • Are you the admissions representative for this region? (If not, ask who is and ask for that person’s business card or contact information. Then, send him or her an email and say you attended the fair and ask any additional questions you have.)

Aspiring Athletes

Most of the time, athletic recruiters are not present at the college fair. If you are planning a campus tour of the schools you are interested in, be sure to let the person who is scheduling your visit know that you are interested in sports. Often times (if available), coaches may meet with you as long as it’s during their open period that does not go against NCAA and NAIA rules. However, if you would like to play on the next level, here are a few questions you can consider when you are in front of the coaches:

  • Do freshman play? What percentage of freshman remain on your team all four years?

  • Do athletes live in the same dorm, or can they live anywhere on campus?

  • Does your school have JV teams? If so, are scholarships available?

  • Do you have official tryouts for the team? How do I get invited for workouts?

  • What positions do you need for the upcoming year?

  • How is the travel schedule and do the professors work with you on absences?

  • What’s the highest GPA of your athletes?

  • When do you expect to have your roster filled?

You want to make a good impression. Be sure to get the contact information of the coach so that you can follow up with a thank you note and any additional highlights you may have to share.

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