7 Steps to Exploring the Colleges, Leaving a Great Impression, and Enjoying Yourself

1. Know what you want to achieve
what are you looking for, what do you need and want
~ to understand the different types of colleges
(state, private liberal arts, historically black)
~ to discover the values of the colleges that are of interest to you
~ to explore more about your areas of interest – possible majors, study abroad, campus life

2. Work out with your parent(s) in advance how you will enjoy the fair
~ Will you go on your own? With a parent(s)?
~ How will you approach the college representatives?

3. Speak for yourself
~ Introduce yourself, shake hands

4. Make a connection with the representative
~Have a conversation

5. Have your questions ready
~ Where is the college?
~ Do you have… specific sport, sorority/fraternity
~ What are the average SAT scores?
(These are questions that indicate that you have not done your homework about the college… Remember you might interview with these representatives and you want to leave a good impression.)

Here are questions that indicate you want to learn about the school and students.
~ Did you go to (the college)?
~ What did you major in?
~ What made (the college) special for you?
~ What is the college known for (for example, traditions, or the nature of student body, the political and social climate)?
~ What are the emphases of the admissions process?
By the numbers (GPA, class rank, SAT’s/ACT or more of a portfolio approach)
~ What’s the typical class size?
~ Do students talk with professors outside of class-> beyond office hours?
~ Do students talk about what they are learning outside of classes?
~ Are any special services offered for support of all students (tutoring or a writing center)? Are there accommodations for students with learning differences or physical disabilities?
~ What percentage of students graduate in 4 years? What percentage go on to graduate school?
~ What is the biggest complaint of students?
~ How does the food plan work?
~ What kinds of financial aid does your school offer?
~ Is housing guaranteed for all four years? How soon can student live off campus?
~Is the campus wireless?

Take notes after each conversation, as there are hundreds of schools at these events, and it’s easy to forget information or get confused afterward).
It might even be easier to print out your list of questions so that you can just write down the answers for each school-one sheet per school, with a place for the name of the school and even the representative on the sheet.

7. Request materials from the representative only if you are interested.


It’s October, and that means that it’s time to get organized so that you can accomplish all that’s a part of the college search AND enjoy your junior year!

It’s way too easy to get caught up in the details (test prep, testing, reviewing college websites and brochures, doing research, visiting campuses), feel overwhelmed, and begin to despair. I’d like to suggest that you take a deep breath and think of the big picture…

With the gorgeous fall weather today, I think about the look and feel of campuses. When you close your eyes and imagine… What type of campus comes to mind? Do you prefer
> traditional, ivy covered buildings or more modern architecture
> a compact campus in a city or one that’s big and sprawling in the countryside?
> a campus busy, teeming with students, or moving at a slower pace?

What feels right to you? Or, is all this talk about environment irrelevant to you?

When I went on my solo roadtrip to check out colleges throughout New England, I saw four different schools in the same number of days. By the time I got to the last school I walked from the parking lot to the admissions office, did my interview, got back in my beloved, secondhand car and headed for home. By the time I got home I decided that I wanted to apply Early Decision to the last school I visited. I gave them a call that afternoon to check that I still had time to do so. I did, and the rest is (happy) history. I have to tell you that the look and feel of the campus were not really important to me… though for some students it makes all the difference…

Figuring out what matter most to you is the key here… Take some time this weekend to get clear on who you are: your strengths, needs, challenges, and wants. As you become clear on who you are and what you want, it becomes easier to sift and sort through the wealth of information available about colleges. Know yourself first and the search becomes simpler!

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