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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

October 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM

How to ace a busy college fair

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Gary Winchester, M.Ed., a program coordinator at the University of Washington, speaks to a student at a transfer fair held at Bellevue College earlier this year. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

College fair season is here again.

Some 15,000 high-school students and parents will descend on the Washington State Convention & Trade Center Nov. 8-9 for the annual Seattle National College Fair. Part of the National Association for College Admission’s circuit of fall fairs, the free event is the biggest college fair in our area—and can also be the most daunting.

Planning to attend a college fair this year? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the experience:*

  • Do your homework. Many events offer a list of participating schools ahead of time. (Attendees at the Seattle National College Fair are listed here.) Budget your time by mapping out your must-visit booths—and keep in mind that you might have to wait in line to talk to admission reps at the more popular schools.

  • Ask the right questions. Check out college websites ahead of time so you can skip over the most basic questions and show that you’re interested enough to have done some research. Ask about the facts that aren’t always included in shiny brochures: What qualities do you look for in prospective students? What percentage of freshmen return for sophomore year? How many graduate on time? What is the average financial aid package, and what’s the typical break-down between scholarships, grants, loans and work-study?
  • Stay organized. Use a simple email thank you to follow up with the reps you talk to. As you narrow your list of potential schools, discard promotional materials from the ones that don’t make the cut, and keep file folders (physical and electronic) for the correspondence you have with each remaining institution.

Got college fair tips and tricks of your own? What else would you add to the list?

*Sources: Princeton Review and New York State Higher Education Services Corporation

Comments | Topics: college, college applications, college fairs

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