College fairs and information sessions

College fairs are an important part of learning about whether a school is a good fit and about showing "demonstrated interest." Fairs and information sessions are a great way to learn about schools early in the process, before your child has narrowed their search.

Some colleges will send representatives to larger cities to recruit students. Often a school will be part of an information session with several other schools (e.g., Rice holds a joint information session with Brown, Chicago, Cornell, and Columbia). Smaller schools might be part of a larger fair (e.g., Juniata and Kalamazoo are part of Colleges That Change Lives).

Check online to see if the colleges your child is interested in will be attending a local fair or sending representatives to your area, sometimes to a high school. If so, have your child sign up online and attend. Small fairs are generally more personal, with fewer students attending.

If a large college fair is in your area, your child should sign up to attend—this gets them on their radar. Be sure they fill out a contact card. Once there, they should stop by the booths of the colleges they’re most interested in attending. The booths may be staffed by an admissions officer, a different college employee, or an alum. With smaller schools, the regional admissions officer will often staff the table.

If an admissions officer is staffing the booth, your child should introduce themselves (if possible, as there may be a long line) and be sure to leave their name and contact information, as many schools keep track of who visited the booth. Also they should pick up the college rep's business card so your student can write a thank-you note (yes, handwritten by snail mail!). 

For more information about college fairs, see Demonstrated interest - what's that?