As the Junior college planning process is well underway, we want to remind everyone about the NACAC* Metro Detroit 2018 College Fair that is coming to the Suburban Collection Showplace. This two day event will take place Wednesday March 28 from 6:00-8:00 pm and on the morning of March 29 from 8:30 11:30 am.. This is the one national college fair that will be in our area this year, and will be attended by most Michigan colleges as well as colleges from other states. Students and parents will be able to meet with college admissions representatives and attend valuable informational sessions led by experts in their field on such topics as the Common Application, Financial Aid, NCAA eligibility, ACT testing, and college essay writing, transferring from 2 to 4 year colleges and pursuing a career in the STEM fields. We have found over the 28 years since the founding of the Fair, that it is an excellent opportunity for juniors who are beginning their college search in earnest.
The best way to prepare for the Fair is to register ahead of time. It will save time when you get there and also at each college booth. Online student registration is now open for students who plan to attend the Fair. To register and for more information go to:
*(National Association of College Admissions Counseling).
Think of it as a beginning
The best way to use this kind of college fair is to view it as a learning opportunity. Look at the list of colleges on the flyer (more colleges will be at the fair) and pick out some familiar names; if you need some help, ask Patti. There will also be counselors at the Fair that can help you once you get there. Many colleges are going to be there that offer a great deal for Roeper students—U-M, MSU, Kalamazoo, Indiana U, Miami University Butler, DePauw, DePaul, Earlham, SCAD, University of Alabama, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Vanderbilt—and there are many more that are “hidden gems”–great schools that you might not know about, but should.
Before you go to the fair, you want to develop a list of maybe 5 questions that will give you a feel for a college in 2 minutes or less. The 5 questions you come up with are really up to you, but you want to design the questions to give you helpful information; a question like “What’s your college like?” won’t really be helpful, since that explanation takes way more than 2 minutes, and 2 minutes is all you’ll get at most of these booths.
The best way to approach the College Fair
is to think about what you want to know about each college once the Fair is over—Does the college feel right to you? Did you leave the Fair with a good enough feel for the college that you’re going to do some additional research on it?
The best way to find out if a college is a good fit is to think about you, not about the college—so you need to ask the college representatives questions based on what you care about, what you want to have around you at your next school, which will also be your next home. Of course, this varies greatly from student to student—some students will have majors they care about, others will want to know about special programs they like or need (vegetarian menu options, quiet dorms, study abroad, special tutorial services, something to do on the weekends, close to a big town), some will want to know if the college is a lot like Roeper.
This last point is helpful to a lot of students. Think about the three things about Roeper you would take with you to college, and the three things that you would definitely leave behind—many students find that to be a good way of figuring out what college should be like for them.
Remember, you don’t have to know all of these things right now—if you have no clue what you’re going to study, that’s perfectly fine—so focus on the things you know matter to you right now, and ask about those. That is the perfect place to begin. Once you think about the things that matter to you, the questions will come. Here are some ideas:
- If you know nothing about the school, it’s best to ask a question that gives the rep some background about you. “I’m thinking about studying engineering; can you tell me about your program?”, or—“I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering at homeless shelters—is community service a big part of your college’s community?”, or “I’ve gone to a school where the teachers really spend time working with you. How does your college individualize learning?”, or “How many students from Michigan attend your college?” These questions show the rep what matters to you, and gives them the opportunity to explain how their college can help meet your interests.
- If you know the college, you can still use the questions above, but you can also ask more specific questions. “Your residential college sounds interesting, but I’m not that skilled at foreign language. Do you have to take a language as part of the residential program?”, or “I’m coming from a small school, and I’d like to do research as a freshman. Is that a real possibility?” Again, the idea here is that you are having a genuine conversation with the rep—this isn’t just a one-way information grab, but the development of a relationship with a college.
- Finally, if you have a couple of “nuts and bolts” questions, ask them. “Do you plan on changing your application very much next year, or will you still be looking for three essays?” “Is it OK to send in three teacher letters rather than two?” “What’s the most important part of the application?” A couple of these are OK, but don’t overdo it—remember, many of these can be answered by checking a Web site, and you want to use your time developing a relationship. With that in mind, here are some tips on how you make the most of the Fair from the past College Fair Chairman:.
- Here’s the strategy:
- Before you go, you’ll need to take along a pen, a highlighter, an unofficial copy of your transcript, and your 5 questions committed to memory (A list of questions follows belowJ
- Grab an information bag when you first come in—this is a plastic bag you’ll use to collect information on the colleges
- Get a locator—a map of where the colleges are located. BEFORE you go out on to the big floor, highlight the location of the colleges you’ve picked out ahead of time.
- If you want additional help looking for colleges, or for colleges with particular majors, there will be college counselors at the Advising Booth that can help you
- Once you’re at a college’s booth, you might have to wait to speak to a representative—this is good! Use this time to listen to what the representative is saying to other students— since they will most likely be asking general questions, this is a great way to expand your 2 minutes Once it’s your turn, get busy. “Hi, my name is (NO student does this, but you should; it shows a sense of confidence, and while the rep might not remember your name, they’ll remember the impression you made) and I go to Roeper School in Birmingham.” From here, you want to ask your questions; make eye contact as they answer, and don’t rush them.
- As your time runs down, if there aren’t many other students at the booth, or if you feel you’re making a good connection with the rep, pull out your transcript as you say “Just one more question. I’m putting my senior schedule together. Here’s what I’ve taken so far; what other courses would your college like to see me take?” ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOBODY does this at a college fair, which is why you should. Don’t be surprised if they don’t know what to say, or if they suggest you come back later—the few students who do this are remembered by reps in a very positive way, and most of the time, you’ll actually get some great advice from a good rep. Thank them for their time, tell them you hope they come by Roeper next fall, and move on.
- Make quick notes on the college before you visit the next booth. You can use your “waiting time” at the next booth to do this, but make sure to write at least something down—you don’t want to confuse your colleges.
- If you can do about 7-10 colleges and spend time at an information session of interest to you, call it a night with an after-fair pizza (this is why you bring your parents along, besides the fact that they will be attending the sessions about financial aid!)
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK (CLICK TO EXPAND):
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling