What Is a College Fair?

by Tobin Perry

College fairs can be an important part of the college discovery journey. However, if you’ve never attended one, they might seem a bit intimidating. What is a college fair, exactly, and what should you know before attending one? Learn what you can expect at a college fair and how to prepare so you can feel confident in exploring your options—and maybe even choosing a college.

What Is a College Fair?

A college fair helps prospective students (and their families) who are looking for a college learn more about their options. Typically, participating colleges set up booths where students can ask questions and pick up information about the school. They’ll often provide brochures and sometimes even college applications.

College fairs may be general, covering a wide range of institutions, or focus on specific types of institutions, like religious schools, engineering programs, or liberal arts schools.

Recently, virtual college fairs have become more common. These events are usually hosted on specific online platforms where schools set up “virtual booths” to talk to prospective students about their school. They may provide digital resources, like brochures and applications, so students still have access to them.

Is There a College Fair near You?

College fair organizers want to promote these events to connect as many high school students to their dream schools as possible, so it’s usually easy to find them (sometimes, they’ll come looking for you!). Here are a few ways to dig up information on upcoming college fairs in your area:

  • Ask your guidance counselor. High school guidance counselors tend to have their eyes open for college fairs. Check here first.
  • Look online. Searching for “college fairs near me” or “upcoming college fairs” will usually yield a strong list of options.
  • Check your local community center or library. Sometimes you can find college fairs through community organizations near you.

If you’re interested in a particular school, contact the college’s admissions office to find out which nearby fairs they’ll be attending.

How Can You Make the Most of Your Visit?

College fairs are an excellent opportunity to look at a wide variety of schools at the same time and talk face-to-face with representatives who came prepared to answer your questions. It’s important to put your best foot forward when you attend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Dress Appropriately

You don’t need to wear formal attire to a college fair, but it’s best to look neat and professional. Business casual is usually a good choice. Think blouses, collared or button-down shirts, slacks, chinos, skirts, dresses, and closed-toe shoes. Avoid ripped jeans and old T-shirts.

Take Notes

Have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes about each college. You might be surprised how easy it is to mix up schools after a couple of hours of talking to several representatives.

Do Your Research

Look at some of the schools you know will be present before the day of the college fair. The more questions you can answer from the college’s website beforehand, the more time you’ll have to get the information you really need to support your process of choosing a college.

Make a Good Impression

You never know when you might make a connection that could be key to opening up a door down the road. Listen intently to the college representatives, make eye contact, and thank them at the end of the conversation. A little courtesy can go a long way.

Follow Up

Get email contacts for the people you meet. Once the day is over, drop them a line and thank them for their time. This can help move you to the top of the list of people they met that day.

Learning at Azusa Pacific University

If you’re looking at APU as a potential college, take the virtual tour before heading to the next college fair. It provides a 360-degree look at the school’s campus and includes videos and articles along the way to help you gather even more insights into what it might be like to live and learn just outside of Los Angeles.