Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
Ph: (305) 494-9389
The National College Fair will be in Miami on February 24th. This free event provides four hours to meet and speak with almost 200 college representatives from all over the United States. Florida State University and the University of Florida 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. Each college has a table or booth where you can speak with a college representative but many times there is a long line, it’s crowded, and it’s hard to hear. Arrive early and have a list of which colleges you want to approach. The popular ones, like FSU and UF, will be packed so plan to see them right away when you first walk in.
Before going to the fair, review the list of colleges that will be present by checking the list on the website (https://www.nacacfairs.org/attend/national-college-fairs/miami-national-college-fair/). Make a list of which ones you want to see and put in a list by priority as it’s possible you may not be able to make it to all of them. If you find that some of your colleges are not attending the fair, make it a point of contacting them directly yourself to find out if they will be visiting your high school. High school visits are smaller, more personal, and offer the best opportunity for you.
Once you have your list of colleges to visit at the fair, prepare your questions. The questions you ask should be 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 that you have done your homework (both good things).
The college will be looking at the courses you took in high school, the grades you achieved, your extra-curricular activities, your test scores and of course your essay. Colleges do this with hundreds of students every year. What you need to do is 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 yet another college essay, they will remember you as the 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 or students or both. Several are even 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!