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For students undertaking the college search, one of the most effective ways to learn more about prospective schools is to attend a college fair. These events can provide you with a wealth of information about college in general and provide specific information about schools you are considering.

Be prepared?
To get the most out of a college fair, it pays to do some pre-fair preparation. You should have a series of objectives in mind long before you walk through the door.

While most colleges do not require you to declare a major as a freshman, it can be helpful to have some idea of the subjects or fields that interest you and that could evolve into your major. That way you can make inquiries about the facilities and reputation of a college's degree programs. For example, if you're interested in earning a bachelor's degree in biology, you can ask about a school's laboratories or opportunities for field research. Similarly, if you want to study engineering, ask if your prospective school maintains relationships with companies working in this field.

Do your research
It is not unusual for students to attend a college fair "cold," meaning they fail to research a school prior to the event. While college fairs are a useful tool during the college search process, they are often very crowded and busy. Consequently, your time at each table is short, so making the most of your time is essential. Prior to attending the fair, spend some time researching schools that interest you. After reviewing the college?s Web site you should be prepared to ask informed, intelligent questions when you talk to the admissions reps.

Ask questions
One of the major advantages of a college fair is that you can speak to a real person about your college concerns. However, asking questions that could have been answered by reviewing a college's Web site is a waste of precious time that could have been used more effectively.

For this reason, formulate a list of questions before attending a college fair. While these questions do not have to be highly specific, the more focused your questions are, the more information you'll walk away with. Do not ask about things that are mentioned in the college literature you will receive, but rather more specific questions like how many students are enrolled in a particular major or does the school offer living-learning communities or have a writing center.

Consider all the options
You are sure to come away from the fair with a pile of promotional literature. Although these materials can be helpful, relying solely on handouts will not give you the full picture. Therefore, ask the college representatives at the fair about campus tours and other opportunities that could help you narrow down your list of prospective schools. Remember, the more information you have, the better prepared you will be when you transition from the college search to the college application process.

Find College Fairs Near You

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