I’ve been getting a lot of questions about things you can do to investigate colleges and express interest in colleges so that you can decide if a college is a serious enough contender for a campus visit (which costs a lot of time, effort and money if the college is farther than 100 miles).

One solution is to attend college fairs. One of the biggest fairs around are the NACAC College Fairs. There are smaller ones — hosted by local schools, etc. BUT if you want to have the opportunity to meet and greet the majority of colleges on your list this is a great opportunity.

Now, while these fairs are great, you’ve got to understand that because they are BIG, they can be overwhelming — and a waste of time if you don’t use them properly. Because there is so much, you can get distracted by lots of “bright shiny objects”. In other words, if you’re not focused, you can spend a lot of time on things that will not bring you any closer to your goal of getting to a final list of colleges.

Here are five tips to make the most of attending any college fair:

1. Register for the fair before you go — so they know you were there and can contact you even.
2. Go with the right frame of mind – your purpose in attending is to spend time with colleges you are already interested in. This is not the place to wander aimlessly trying to find colleges you might like.
3. Have the list of colleges you’re currently considering with you and make it a priority to get to those colleges’ booths first.
4. Save your hands — you may want to print out a sheet of mailing labels with your name, address and phone number. That way when you stop at the booth, if they have any card they want you to fill out, you can slap the label on it instead of handwriting your information over and over again.
5. Be prepared to stop and chat with the representatives at the colleges you are already interested in. Go with questions (you should already have them — just pull out the questions we’ve created around your criteria and pick a few to ask before you go.)

After you’ve stopped by all of the colleges you are already considering and investigating, then and only then, if time allows should you start wandering to anyone new.

Your Smart Plan For College Assignment

Evaluate your plan to investigate the colleges you SAY you’re interested in. Are you talking with them? Are you asking good questions that can help you come to a decision? You can’t visit every college out there – you need to “vote colleges off” your list (kind of like Survivor). Add the “College Fair” to your plan as a tactic to investigate colleges to see if they are worthy of further consideration.

Once you decide to attend, create your plan for making the most of that college fair – or else you’ll be spinning your wheels and have yet another thing you’ve spent hours doing with little to show for it.

Author's Bio: 

Jeanmarie Keller has helped thousands of students get into colleges they love while making sure their parents save a fortune on the bill. Jeanmarie is the creator of the Smart Plan For College System which teaches her client-families how to get noticed in the admissions office, get in at the colleges right for them and how to get the money they need to help pay the bill.

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