When I worked as an Assistant Director of Admissions at UNC Chapel Hill, much of my time in the fall was spent at college fairs behind a table draped with a blue Carolina banner. Even though I’m pretty tiny, I have a loud voice, which came in handy while standing behind that table talking to prospective students and families. The conversations were usually the same; anxious parents standing slightly in front of their student and asking about GPA requirements and test scores. Every so often, a student would take the lead and ask a thoughtful question about a particular academic department or extra-curricular opportunity. It was those conversations that I remembered long after the college fair ended. And every so often, I would receive a hand-written note in my campus mail box from a student who met me at a college fair, thanking me for answering a question or even just for standing on my feet for four hours. In the late fall and early winter when I was home reading application after application, I would wonder if the student who wrote the amazing essay was the same student who inquired about the study abroad program in Argentina. Because of the volume of applications to read, I didn’t always have time to find out that answer, but when I could picture the face of the student behind the application, it did make a difference. Especially when I was picturing the face of the student and not the face of the parent.
Prioritize the list of schools
Make a list of the schools you definitely want to get to
- Review the lay-out when you arrive at the fair.
- If you need to, split up. If it doesn’t seem possible to meet with all of the colleges on your list, divide and conquer. Parents - make sure to emphasize your student’s interest in the school.
- The colleges aren’t always in alphabetical order, so use the resource guide to help you locate your top choices.
Formulate your questions/introduction.
Here are some examples:
Hello, my name is Lindsey. I’ve toured your campus and I plan to submit an application to your school. I just wanted to take the time to introduce myself and thank you for being at the college fair. Are there any materials on your table that I should collect or new information I should know about?
Hello, my name is Lindsey. I’ve received materials in the mail about your school but have not yet visited. I’m interested in learning more about your study abroad program. Can you share with me some details about programs in Europe?
Hello, my name is Lindsey. I’m not that familiar with your school. What majors are particularly strong? Are there unique programs that I should know about?
Process what you learned and follow-up
Take some notes right after the fair to remember detailed information about what you learned.
Send an email or thank you note to the representative you talked with to thank them for their time.
Tips for meeting with college representatives at your high school
Throughout the months of September, October, and November, college representatives from institutions across the country will be visiting area high schools to present information to students.
It can be intimidating to attend your first meeting with the college representatives who visit your high school. One way to get past the anxiety is to attend a meeting with a buddy. Perhaps identify a meeting that seems interesting and encourage your friend to tag along.
Here are a few more tips:
Start with a college that you know something about or have at least heard of. The familiarity will put you at ease and you can better focus on the information provided by the representative.
Introduce yourself as you walk into the meeting. Shake the representative’s hand and say something like, “Hi, I’m Lindsey. I’m a junior. Thanks for visiting my school.”
Thank the representative as you leave: “Thank you for the information. That was really helpful!”