A college fair is a gathering of college representatives who are looking for the right students for their institutions. They’re there to spread the word about their college to high school students — and they want to talk to you.

College fairs may be held at your school, a conference center or a local community center, and the colleges may be local or from around the country. The representatives usually sit at booths or tables and hand out brochures and cards. They can tell you about everything from academics to campus life at their college, and they can also answer more-general questions about college.

Ask your counselor or a teacher how to find college fairs in your area. If you can, try to go to more than one to get a good sampling of what’s out there. The checklist below will help you get the most out of each fair.

Before You Go

  • Find out which colleges will be at the fair (a list may be posted on the fair’s website) and write down the names of the ones you want to learn about.
  • Make a list of any questions you have.
  • Bring your list, a pen, paper and a bag to hold college brochures.
  • Make sure the email address that you give out won’t embarrass you — remember, college admission officers will see it.

While You’re There

  • Get a map of the fair and plan a route that will take you to the booths of all the colleges on your list. If there is no map available, do a quick survey of the room to locate your colleges.
  • Visit booths and ask college representatives questions. For example, you can ask, “What kind of student are you looking for?” or “What makes your campus special?”
  • Take a minute to jot down any information you think is important before moving on to the next booth.
  • Check out some of the other booths when you’re done with the colleges on your list. You may stumble onto a great college you hadn't considered.
  • Attend an information session, if any are offered. Typical topics include applications and financial aid. These sessions are good opportunities to get expert advice.