What Are College Fairs?
College Fairs are time-saving opportunities for students and parents to gather a lot of information from a number of colleges, universities and military services in one day. Deciding what to do after high school is one of the most important decisions that a high-school senior will make. At a College Fair there will be representatives from colleges, universities and technical schools from all over the United States to assist you in making this decision.
Preparation is Key
Going through your mind should be such questions as: "What am I looking for in a college education?"; "What are my career goals?"; and "What do I need to do to achieve those goals?"For those students who wish to enroll in a college or university, questions involving majors, size of school, costs, and types of extracurricular activities and social life need to be asked and answered.
Students and parents should read as much as possible about the colleges and universities in which they are interested before attending a program like this. If possible, you should get a viewbook or catalog on these institutions ahead of time, or visit the school's Web site and familiarize yourself with the facts that interest you. College representatives are always more eager to discuss their institution with students who seem genuinely interested, and who are somewhat knowledgeable about the school.
Find the Schools that Most Interest You
Visit first the tables of the colleges in which you are primarily interested. If possible select at least six colleges or schools in which you are definitely interested before coming to the College Fair. Plan on visiting with these representatives first. If there is much of a line before a particular school, go to another table and return at a later time. The representatives will be there throughout the times posted for the Fair and you might find that visiting with them when they are not busy will be better for you because they will be able to answer your questions more fully.
A college fair is a good time to expand your knowledge about colleges and/or careers, in general. The representatives of the various institutions come from a variety of experiences and backgrounds, and they will be very pleased to answer any questions you have. You may even find that there will be other institutions at the program that may better serve your needs than the ones you were originally considering. Therefore, take advantage of the opportunity to investigate other institutions.
Ask About Financial Aid
If you think you cannot afford a college education, or afford the college of your choice, you could be very pleasantly surprised. Too many families are automatically limiting their college selection, or whether to even attend college, simply by looking at tuition and room and board costs. Very few families can afford the cost of higher education without the availability of some type of financial assistance. Contrary to some public opinion, there are many opportunities to get financial assistance, even for upper-middle-income families. College selection should not be limited to those schools a family may mistakenly think they can afford.
This College Fair is not meant to be the last step in your search for the college or university that will give you all that you want and need in an education. It is most often considered to be one of the first steps in your search process. After you accumulate the information you receive at the program, you should sit down, read, and digest the many pamphlets you have received. After that, narrow your choices to five or six institutions in which you are interested and visit them. Spend as much time on these campuses as you can. Have an interview in the admissions office; talk to students, faculty and alumni as much as possible; and if possible, arrange a campus tour, sit in on classes, and spend a weekend.
Weigh Your Options Carefully
Choosing a college should not be a haphazard process. Some decisions on college selection are made for very odd reasons. They should not be. Remember, the college in which you decide to enroll should, and will, have a profound impact on the rest of your life.
Parents are encouraged to bring younger students - middle and junior high-school students - to the College Fair to begin early planning. A counseling center will be available to answer questions and to assist in the planning process.
National College Fairs
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is sponsor of several college fairs throughout the country. Based in Arlington, VA, it serves high-school guidance counselors and college-admissions officers who assist students with the transition to higher education. Its more than 9,000 members are colleges and universities, high schools, associations and organizations, and individuals whose institutions belong to NACAC.
NACAC establishes and promotes high ethical standards for the counseling professions, answers questions on financial aid, students' rights in the admissions process, ethics and legal decisions affecting admissions and sponsors research pertinent to the counseling profession. Visit NACAC's Web site at www.nacacnet.org.