Forget images of elephant ears, Ferris wheels, and livestock competitions and instead point your attention to a different kind of fair–the Christian college fair. If you’re considering attending college to further your education, it’s important to understand not only what happens at college fairs but also why you should consider attending them. At college fairs, representatives from universities gather in a single location to describe their institution and its offerings for prospective students.
Find a Fair
A college fair allows you the opportunity to talk to representatives from a number of reputable universities and colleges. Prospective students can gather information about the schools in which they’re interested and ask specific questions rather than simply reading online reviews or flipping through brochures. If you have a strategy in place, a fair can be a great way to see these schools “up close,” allowing you to refine your college search to find the one that best meets your educational and professional career goals. To find an upcoming fair, you may either call prospective schools to find out whether one or more college fairs are in the near future or visit the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NAACAP) website to find college fairs in your area.
Know What You Want
In order to get the most out of your fair visit, it’s vital that you know what you are hoping to get out of the experience. Rather than walking aimlessly up and down rows of displays and haphazardly grabbing brochures, prepare yourself ahead of time. Write down five or six factors that you’re looking for in a school–things that you must have in a college. Think about what’s important to you. Do you need to attend a school that is known for generous financial aid distribution? What types of spiritual development activities are important to you? Are there any extracurricular activities you’d like to become involved in? What majors are you considering? Is location a deal-breaker? Use your list to help form questions to ask each representative, and write down the answers you receive so you don’t forget potentially critical information after you leave. Also, consider asking the representative about factors that make the school unique or what values are most important at that particular school.
Plan a Campus Visit
Once the fair is over, gather in the information and make a chart with a “yes” column, a “no” column, and a “maybe” column. Of course, the “yes” column is for schools that you definitely want to visit, the “maybe” column is for schools that aren’t currently your top choices but that you may come back to later and the “no” column is for schools that you are no longer going to consider. Use the chart to schedule on-campus visits with your “yes” schools.
If you know ahead of time what you’re looking for in a university, ask well-researched questions and take notes and use the information you’ve gathered to your advantage, a fair can be a helpful and important part of your college search. However, the key to getting the most out of the Christian college fair is to prepare ahead of time so that you have a high chance of gaining the type of information that will ultimately allow you to make the best decision possible.