By: Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
Ph: (305) 494-9389
The National College Fair takes place in Miami on February 23rd. This free event offers four hours to meet and speak with almost 200 college representatives from schools all over the United States. Florida State University (FSU) and University of Florida (UF) plan to be there. If you are a high school student interested in attending college- you should go to this event. But you need to go with a plan to really take advantage of the time.
Get there early. The place gets packed and it’s LOUD. Each college will have a booth where you can meet with a college representative but often there is a long line, it’s crowded, and it’s hard to hear. Arrive early with your list of colleges to visit. FSU and UF will be packed so go to their section right away. To prepare, review the list of colleges that will be present by checking the list on the website (https://hub.nacacnet.org/CollegeFairDirectory?id=a0k1P000017XRJ2QAO&_ga=2.90592538.1050451770.1579831319-250471830.1578087370 ). Make a list of the schools you want to visit by priority order because you may not make it to all of them.
Once you have your list of colleges to visit at the fair, prepare your questions. Ask questions that are specific to the colleges themselves. Don’t ask questions that can easily be answered by reading their website. Ask smart questions that will help you make a decision as to whether you really want to apply to the school. Your questions that will show the representative if you are truly interested in the school and if you have done your research (both good things).
College will be looking at your high school courses, your grades, your extra-curricular activities, your test scores and of course your essay. You will be one of thousands of students to you need to stand out. College fair representatives will take notes on students who make a good impression and that information will be shared with Admissions Directors. When they are reading your college essay, they will remember you as a well-dressed student who was very interested in their school and asked great questions. By standing out you will be remembered and that earns you extra points towards admission. Really want to stand out? Give them your resume at the fair.
Although you are focusing on colleges that are on your list, be open to other opportunities. There may be a school at the fair that you never considered and something about it catches your attention. Walk over and listen to what the representative is saying to other students and get some material to read later.
The college fair usually offers workshops on writing your essay, how financial aid works, test taking, and other related topics. These presentations are geared for parents and/or students. Several are offered in Spanish! Take advantage of these free workshops because you will always learn something that will help with you.
The National College Fair packs a lot of information and a lot of people in a short amount of time so do your best to not be overwhelmed. Have your list of colleges to visit ready (you can even map it out!); prepare questions beforehand; dress casual but nice; and don’t forget to give them your resume!