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If you are a high school junior or senior, likely you are being bombarded with college information. In your search for the just right school, you go through several brochures and information packets that have been sent to you in the mail. You spend hours going through college websites trying to glean something from the information provided that tells you what it would be like to go to that college. You may have even spent time on the phone with college admissions offices. You know, of course, that you really won’t know what a school’s environment is truly like until you visit the campus, but you can’t visit every campus! Probably the most difficult part of selecting a college is narrowing your list down to a small group of colleges that you can actually physically visit.

One of the best ways to narrow this list is to attend a college fair. Even if there is not a college fair scheduled in your area and you have to travel a bit to attend one, it will likely be worth it. These fairs provide the opportunity to meet in person with representatives of many different schools at once. It’s the next best thing to a campus visit. Here are some reasons why:

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Face to Face Meeting

By having the opportunity to speak face-to-face with administrators and sometimes students from a college you think you may be interested might give you a better idea about the culture and environment of the school. You also may have the opportunity to discuss the specifics of financial aid programs, or athletic scholarship requirements. A conversation in person can sometimes help you imagine yourself at the school and determine if you think it is a fit for you.

Saving Travel and Money

Eventually you are going to want to visit the campuses of schools that you think you’d like to attend. Most of the time your budget for this, or your parent’s budget, just won’t allow for you to visit a large number of schools all across the US. Attending a fair allows you to meet several schools at once and get some more detailed and personal information. It will likely help you narrow your list of preferred colleges to something more manageable when you are ready to start scheduling visits.

A Hidden Gem

There is also a possibility that, in your discussions with colleges around the fair, that you may find that you have overlooked a college that could be just right for you. Sometimes websites and brochures don’t represent a school well enough to attract your interest. Talking to people, especially students or administrators who can answer your direct questions and help you see the value of a school might cause you to take a second look. You may find yourself attending a college you would have never thought to attend if you hadn’t taken the time to go to the college fair.

Marketing Yourself

The whole idea of a college fair is to allow schools to represent themselves and attract new students to their campuses. Yet not everyone who applies to a college will gain admission. Attending a college fair is a great chance for you to begin a relationship with your school. After you speak to a representative of the school, they can be a contact for you, and often you can speak or correspond directly with that person regarding application or admissions questions. It’s a great way to show a prospective college that you have initiative and that you are serious about your interest in the school.