Make the Most Out of Your College Career Fair
Face to face meetings help you get acquainted.
If you’re in high school and planning to attend college, one of the best ways to get acquainted with a school is to attend a college career fair. Most high schools have them — these are usually one-day events where recruiting staff from local colleges and universities show up, set up tables and encourage you to stop by. Some fairs are much larger and include schools from across the country and abroad.
Let’s take a look at how you can make your next college career fair a personal success:
Your guidance counselor — First things first: you’ll want to stay in touch with your guidance counselor to keep abreast of when the next college career day will be held at your school. Your counselor should have dates at the ready and know which schools have committed to attend. Although you’ll want to eventually make a campus visit, an earlier meeting at your high school with college reps can help you make your plans. Some high schools hold multiple fairs at various times of the year too.
Attend a resume workshop — Guess what? A resume can come in handy as you meet with college recruiters. Most high school students do not have one, but resumes certainly come in handy when you’re considering a college. When your high school offers a resume workshop, plan to attend it. Work with staff or volunteers to build a resume that accurately depicts who you are and what you’ve done academically as well as your work or volunteer pursuits.
Just before the fair — About one week before the fair begins, you’ll want to do to two things: set aside a professional wardrobe to wear to school on the day of the fair. That way, you’ll have the dress that will match your professionalism. You’ll also want to identify which school representatives you’ll want to meet up with. Some fairs have dozens of schools in attendance — you don’t have the time to visit all nor should you. Choose 6-10 schools that interest you and plan to visit each table during the course of the fair.
Plan your questions — You may have uncovered many things about the colleges you are interested in through the school’s website, its Facebook page or its Twitter account. Likely, you have some questions you want to have answered. This is the time to write out your questions that might include: What GPA is required for consideration? Can I live off campus during my freshman year? How diverse is your campus? When can I make a personal visit?
Obtain an agenda — College career fairs are typically crowded with students, high school faculty and parent volunteers, and college representatives. You’ll want to obtain an agenda and circle the stations (tables) you want to visit and make an effort to stop by each place during the fair. Allow enough time to stop by and work in breaks to write or record notes. Be mindful that popular schools often attract the most students and have the longest lines. Move on to another school if your wait is long — you can always return later when lines have diminished.
Know your elevator pitch — What is an elevator pitch? That is a brief introduction you can make to anyone who asks you about yourself. Such pitches are fewer than 30 seconds or just long enough for the elevator to open up and let someone out. In this case you’ll be meeting face-to-face and not have the benefit of an elevator to practice your routine. Share your name, your interests and aspirations and ask questions as part of your normal dialogue.
When you finish meeting with a representative, collect that person’s business card. You’ll also likely be asked for your contact information; be prepared to submit a copy of your resume and to fill out the appropriate form for a follow up talk or visit. Follow up with your guidance counselor if you weren’t able to meet with a college representative or have questions to ask your advisor.
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