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How to rock your college fair

ISU table at a college fair

Here's how to make the most of your college fair experience.

Friday night football games, your favorite sweatshirt, bonfires, and the Homecoming dance—fall is a great time to make lasting high school memories. It is also a great time to think about what’s next … college.

But where do you start? A great way to get to know different schools is to attend a college fair near you. College fairs give you the chance to talk to representatives from all kinds of schools, all in one place. Think of it as speed dating for your college search!

Here are some tips to make the most of your time at a college fair:

WHO’S ON YOUR LIST

The number of colleges at a fair can be overwhelming. The best way to avoid getting lost amongst all the choices is to prepare. Fairs usually have a website or flier that lists who is attending. Sort through the list and find the schools you’re already interested in plus a few more you’d like to explore. Once you have your list, prioritize to make the most of your evening.

MAKE AN IMPRESSION

Are you a little nervous about talking to colleges? No worries! Just make a list of questions for each college. Ask some general questions to each school, but also tailor some of your questions to specific schools. Representatives want to be direct with you and make a personal connection, so let them know what interests you and how interested you are in their school.

If the fair is busy and a school’s table is crowded, it’s a great idea to grab some information and ask if there is another time that you can meet one on one. This is an opportunity for you to get individualized attention, and it shows great initiative.

AN INSIDER TIP

As you go to each school’s table, they will want to know a little bit about you as well. Fact: Your hand will get tired of writing, and writing just takes time that you don’t want to waste. Solution: Bring some labels printed with your information and slap them on the cards schools will give you when requesting your information. Benefit: saved time and no hand cramp. Information to include on the label: full name, high school, anticipated graduation date (month/year), GPA (and scale, 4.0, 5.0, etc), ACT or SAT, intended major(s), home address, phone number and email address.

VISIT, CONNECT, AND EXPLORE

Find a college fair near you by asking your high school guidance counselor or checking out the IACAC 2014-15 College Fair Schedule. Don’t stop there. If you made a connection with a campus representative, be sure to follow up! To get an authentic feel for a particular school, visit the campus. (You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it. College should be no different.) Illinois State offers open houses, daily visits, and special programming just for students like you. We would be glad to welcome to you campus. Register online and visit soon!

Senior Admissions Counselor Matt Keegan can be reached at mpkeega@IllinoisState.edu. Get more Admissions tips.

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