Nights are getting cooler, high school parking lots are full again and classroom supplies are out on the store shelves. It can only mean one thing: another school year has begun! And with it, the college search for high school juniors and seniors. There are many components to this process (the campus tour, the creation of online accounts and the first of many appointments in the Guidance Office). Another step that can’t be forgotten is the College Fair. With fairs happening literally around the world and every single day of the week, it can be overwhelming to prepare for and attend one. We’re here to offer you some introductory advice to get the most out of a College Fair you attend.
You may be tempted to ask some basic questions when you visit a college’s table: “Do you have this major?” “What is your tuition?” or “Do you have this sport?” These are important things to know about each college, but you can answer most of these questions quickly and on your own with one of the brochures laid out or visiting the school’s website. Instead, think of a College Fair like College “Speed Dating.” You have dozens (or even hundreds!) of schools to learn about, and you get to personally interact with someone from each institution to decide how this school fits into your college career. Use this time to explore your options, and dig for the intangible information that comes with conversing with someone. Once you have this in mind, you’re ready to ask questions.
So, what kinds of questions can help you dig deep in a short amount of time? Here are just a few ideas…
- [Start with an introduction.] This is technically not a question, but giving the representative a few key details about yourself can help direct the conversation into information that matters to you specifically. If there is enough time, start with a “Hello, my name is ___, I am a ____ in high school (Junior, etc.) and I am interested in studying something like_____. I’m also interested in_____ (extracurricular activities).” This short, but powerful start can help a school representative sort through dozens of majors, programs and options to give you relevant information, even in just 2-3 minutes of chatting.
- “How is the atmosphere of the campus and surrounding community?” Where do you envision yourself as a thriving college student? In the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis, with a downtown internship and endless activities? At the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, joining your classmates for an evening hike or outdoor study session? Perhaps outside of a small town, where everyone knows your name and wears the same color on game day? There is no right answer to your ideal college environment, but asking this question can help you picture what’s being offered, and more importantly, help you see if you’re in the mental image.
- “What’s distinctive about your institution?” Every school is going to be good at something, and every representative can likely tell you what this is! However, more than a just a moment to brag, this is a way to see how a university leads. In what areas has it created a positive impact? In what programs has it seen wide success? What are the priorities of the institution? And what goals has it established? Knowing how each school sets itself apart is a way for you to do the same and learn which ones stand out to you.
- “Tell me about extracurricular life.” The same way that each college has a unique community, each campus has a unique student body. By knowing not only what the extracurricular options are, but also knowing how students engage with them, you can start to envision your future classmates. And you can start to determine if you would fit in next to them.
- “I’m interested in your school! What’s my next step?” Many people that represent a school at college fairs work in some aspect with admissions. So if you are interested in moving forward with this school, be proactive! Find out if you need to fill out a contact form, schedule an interview or visit campus. These hosts should know what comes next, and may even be involved in your application consideration, so leverage this interaction and start a relationship. Grab his or her contact information, and make sure you know how to follow up if you have questions later in the process. No sweat-you’ve got this!
Interested in trying out these questions with a CU Boulder representative? You’re in luck! Our staff travels the world to meet with students and to answer these exact questions.
To see a listing of all scheduled events, please visit here.
Senior Admissions Counselor
Office of Admissions