Last Sunday my family attended our first college fair. Having a senior in high school, we probably should have gone last year, but I’m not sure we were ready at that point. Her major area of interest has changed three times since the beginning of her junior year.
We have also been to a few open houses with more on the docket for this fall.
Attending a college fair was different than I expected. Two-hundred fifty colleges were set table to table in the field house at USM-Gorham, each one with one or two eager faces willing to sell their college to the prospective students and the wallets attached to them (Mom and Dad).
The first thing I did right was before we left I printed off a list of the colleges and handed it to my daughter with a highlighter. “Highlight the ones you want to see.”
Narrowing it down to the 15 or so colleges made the event less overwhelming and helped us move through the crowds.
Having some questions and knowing what you want to find out from the admissions people is number two on the list of preparedness. Being able to fire off questions and with the pen and pad of paper you brought, take notes, because the student won’t remember which school had swimming and which school didn’t even have a pool.
The third tip that I didn’t know about was bring address labels with the child’s name on it. That way it saves time when filling out the cards repeatedly. Peel and stick.
Admissions representatives can make or break a student wanting to go to that school. The guy from the University of Maine at Presque Isle was awesome. Energetic, knowledgeable and reeled my daughter in. She is now considering a road trip to northern Maine, the county, to check out UMPI.
Other colleges made a great impression and some not so great. My son, who is still five years from graduation has picked out his college as well. His minor? Civil War era studies.
He still has time, right?
I recommend talking to colleges at fairs like this one. These representatives are in the trenches looking at applications, they know what they look for, so ask the tough questions. After all, aren’t you the wallet attached to the prospective student?