At this point you may think it’s unnecessary to attend college fairs when you already have your list of potential schools. However, these fairs are a particularly efficient way to begin to narrow down that list. Equally, although there is a lot of practical and valuable information to be found online at each school’s website, a college fair can show you the inside workings and give you a better feel for what life would be like at these institutions. It also may not be obvious to everyone but you should really visit the campus of a school you plan to attend before accepting an admission offer.
Websites generally list available majors, describe the facilities, display beautiful photos of a campus, and give you short biographies of the faculty. However, recruiters can answer your questions regarding the true “personality” of a school and ultimately give you a much clearer idea of your compatibility. These events can give you a lot of insight, even if you think you’re sure about your selections. These tours are also ideal for students still in high school; do your research on the schools you’re interested in before you add them to your list.
The biggest buzzword for college fairs is, again, efficiency. These events are perfect for feeling out multiple schools at once, and eliminating those that are not the right fit for you. Many specifically visit multiple regions, in order to be accessible to prospective students around the country. You can also get an idea of what each school expects of its applicants and tips on what to expect during an interview. Recruiters like to see your interest, and they are looking for indications whether the students who approach them are seriously considering attending rather than just “window shopping”.
Even if you plan to attend a top-tier school, college fairs still have their uses. This list outlines several popular annual events. Be aware that although attendance is free, these events do require registration ahead of time.
The Coast to Coast College Tour
This literally cross-country tour includes some very recognizable names in the form of Berkeley, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Princeton and Vanderbilt. These colleges have collaborated on their tour presentation as they each practice “holistic admissions” as defined by the AAMC: “Holistic review is a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics and, when considered in combination, how the individual might contribute value as a medical student and physician.”
Exploring Educational Excellence
This lineup includes Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Rice and this tour includes information sessions for prospective students and their families, as well as counselor sessions that offer the opportunity to ask questions directly of admissions reps.
Get the most updated information about their offerings and tour locations here: http://www.exploringeducationalexcellence.org/
8 of the Best Colleges
The 8 of the Best Colleges tour is another collaborative collection comprising Claremont McKenna College, Colorado College, Connecticut College, Grinnell College, Haverford College, Kenyon College, Macalester and Sarah Lawrence College. This group of distinctive liberal arts colleges “place great value on student-faculty interaction, small classes, and challenging curricula” as self-described on the tour website. The tour itself offers presentations on each school, and their selective admissions criteria.
Learn more here: https://8ofthebestcolleges.org/
Exploring College Options
Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Penn, and Stanford present this tour annually, visiting all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia. Representatives from each university are on-hand to speak in turn about their institutions and answer your questions about the competitive admissions process.
Follow the tour and locate your nearest fair here:
Suncoast Ivy League College Fair
The last on our list contains Ivy League schools, and be sure to visit their website, because there was no 2017 tour, and 2018 has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, their website encourages students to speak to their college counselors about their schools of interest.
Check the website regularly for updates: http://www.ivyleaguecollegefair.com/
Additional resources, information sessions and fairs can be found at these sites:
Colleges That Change Lives –
National Association for College Admission Counseling –
About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.