Reading through college pamphlets might feel exciting at first. But it might get overwhelming as more of them come, and as the deadline for applications approaches.
If sorting through pamphlets isn’t for you, the next best thing is to attend a college fair.
You can get almost all the information you need on your chosen school, but only if you come prepared. This article will show you different questions to ask at college fairs and why you should ask them.
What are College Fairs Anyway?
College fairs are events where representatives from various colleges and universities come to a school or community to answer questions from interested student applicants. It’s a great way for students to show interest for a particular school, while getting information and application materials at the same time.
Many high schools have college fairs of their own. But the colleges in attendance will depend on your school’s location, and connections to colleges, among other factors.
Want to explore more schools? Check out these college fair events from the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC):
- National College Fairs
- Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs
- STEM College Fair
- International Universities
Create a Game Plan
Research the schools you want to approach. List the basic info you can find on their websites, and the specific questions you have about their programs, admission requirements, financial aids, etc. Don’t want to waste the representative’s time by asking questions already on their website.
Bring a notepad. Expect to receive a lot of forms and pamphlets, so bring a folder or bag to make it easier to lug things around.
If you’re still not sure what to questions to ask at college fairs, use the list below:
General Questions to Ask at College Fairs
1. What Program/s or Major/s does the College Specialize in?
You don’t want to enroll in a college famous for its art program if you’re looking for a career in tech.
This information is obvious in some schools. Harvard, for instance, is famous for its medical and law school. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case, especially in some state schools or smaller colleges.
This question will help you find out which program has the best professors, the most funding, and equipment. Of course, notable programs attract more applicants, making the admission process more competitive.
PRO TIP: Don’t ask a college representative to compare their school’s program with another. It’s against the NACAC’s Statement Principles of Good Practice. Representatives can only discuss the organization they represent.
Want to get into Harvard? Find out what Harvard looks for beyond high GPAs.
2. Do You Offer Special Study Programs?
Not all students excel in traditional classroom based learning. To augment this, some schools offer unique study programs to cater to their student’s needs.
Special programs can include:
- Distance learning or online learning
- Study abroad programs
- Accelerated programs
- Honors programs
- Double majors
- Independent study
- Dual Enrollment
Ask the school representative about the available programs, and the requirements to participate. Ask about the additional costs involved too.
PRO TIP: Visit CollegeBoard for more information about special study programs.
Admission Related Questions to Ask at College Fairs
3. What is the average SAT or ACT score for admitted students?
The higher the average SAT/ACT score, the more competitive the school is.
If you’ve already received your SAT/ACT score, the representative’s answer will show where you stand among the school’s current student population.
A lower than average SAT/ACT score means you either need to retake the test or consider another school.
Students yet to take the exam can use the average score as their target during their exams.
4. Are there Specific Requirements for (________) Program?
Some programs require an audition, a certain GPA, special interview, or portfolio in addition to the school’s general admission requirements.
Music programs, for example, might require students to audition with their preferred musical instrument. Art students will need to present a portfolio of their latest creations.
Ask if some majors are more competitive than others, too.
You’ll be asked to choose an intended major or course on your college application.
Whether or not you’re decided on that major, the admissions committee will take that choice into consideration when accepting your application. Some students even pick a major they have no interest in, just to get their foot in the door!
It’s important to know how competitive the admissions process is for your chosen major, so you can plan accordingly.
5. Will you give me credit for my previous work experience?
This is an excellent question to ask at college fairs for adult learners returning to school after years in the corporate world.
You worked hard and learned amazing things on your job. Shouldn’t that count for something?
Mind you, not all schools do this and not all work experience are eligible for credit. Ask what kind of work is eligible for credit and the requirements you need to pass to gain said credit.
Tuition and Financial Aid Questions to Ask at College Fairs
6. What other fees and costs are there besides the tuition?
This is probably the most important among all the questions you can ask at college fairs. Tuition isn’t the only thing you (or your parents) have to pay when you go to college. There’s miscellaneous fees, lab fees, admin fees, room and board, textbooks, meal plans, library fees, etc.
Note that you can’t make an apples to apples comparison when it comes to tuition and other costs. Some schools might charge more for lab fees, but they might have better facilities or faculty.
Want to save money in college? Read these money saving tips.
7. What is the average amount of financial aid or scholarship awarded to students?
Scholarship or aid given may vary based on school’s available funds that year, your socio-economic background, your GPA and a lot of other factors.
Asking about the average amount will give you an idea of whether their college scholarship will be enough for your budget.
8. Is there a separate deadline for scholarship applications?
Some schools process financial aid applications and scholarships ahead of the normal college application schedule. In some cases, there are separate forms to be signed, as well as interviews that need to be scheduled.
Questions to Ask at College Fairs about the Campus
9. Does your university have a club or organization for (activity)?
You’ll spend a good four years of your life on campus, so it’s worth knowing if they have an existing organization that caters to your hobbies and interests.
If the club or organization doesn’t exist, ask about the school’s guideline on starting a new one.
10. How many students are there in a typical class?
Small classes allow for better student-teacher relations. If the student-to-professor ratio is bigger than you hoped, ask about other ways students can talk to professors, such as an “office hours” arrangement.
Inquire about counseling services, student advisors, and other services that can assist you in case you have trouble keeping up with your studies.
11. What’s the community like outside the campus?
Many applicants forget to ask this question at college fairs because they’re so focused on admission requirements or scholarships. Yes, your studies are your main priority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose a school where you’d be happy and comfortable on weekends.
Some schools, for example, are based in the countryside, surrounded by mountains and farmlands. Outdoorsy students can enjoy the occasional weekend trek or just studying outside enjoying the cool breeze.
Everyone has their own ideal environment, so choose a school with a community that reflects your interests.
12. Does your (Program Name) have tie ups with official organizations?
Every academic program improves tenfold when tied to a relevant professional organization.
Arizona State University, for instance, has a curriculum tie-up with the Society for Human Resource Management.
The curriculum you’ll learn in such programs will teach you real world skills. It will also give you a connection to the corporate world you can tap on after you graduate.
Other academic questions to ask at college fairs:
- What should I do if I want to change my major?
- Do you have programs to help freshmen adjust on campus?
- Do you have an honors program?
13. How does the university assist students in finding jobs or internships?
You go to college to get a job. Unfortunately, a degree isn’t always enough.
You need a school that has resources in place to assist students after they graduate. Ask the college representative if they have a career center, and what kind of services they offer.
Services to look for:
- Internship placement
- Resources on how to write a resume with no experience
- Guide on what to bring to an interview
- Information sessions or job fairs
- Career counseling
Ask about their alumni network as well, because members of these networks can clue you in on relevant job opportunities.
Organize all the information you’ve gathered at the college fair. Discuss your thoughts with your parents so you can decide on your target schools.
Send a ‘Thank You’ note to the college reps you spoke with, and ask any follow up questions you might have.