College Fair Guide: 16 Tips For Talking To Admissions Reps

By Emily Brehe-Gunter

Narrowing down which colleges to apply to is a long and stressful process for some students. It’s hard to decide which colleges feel like a fit, and many factors should contribute to that decision: location, degree options, cost, campus life, etc. While college websites can provide a lot of information, they don’t always give clear answers to student questions or depict a full picture of what life will be like at that particular college. That’s where college fairs come into play.

College fairs are events that showcase various colleges. Admissions officers or college representatives set up booths with signage and give out brochures and other informational resources to attendees. They talk with students, answer questions, and collect contact information. The events can feature colleges from a certain region, or they can include colleges from across the U.S.

In this guide, we explain the importance of college fairs and give some tips on what to do when attending.

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Why attend a college fair?

The goal of college admissions is to pair students with their best fit colleges, and these events help students become aware of the multitude of options out there. They also serve as an important step to learning about and demonstrating interest in a college and give students a strong overview when combined with campus visits or information sessions. Remember, the more information you have about a college, the easier it is to feel confident about where you apply. Plus, it serves as an opportunity to practice talking to admissions staff.

At KD College Prep, we know the value of attending college fairs, which is why we were excited to host our first fair on Nov. 2, 2023 with the DFW Admissions Regional Network (DARN). The event featured booths from 19 colleges, and 64 KD students and their families were in attendance.

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“It was a great opportunity for our students to get a deeper understanding of a variety of schools, including some that were to them less familiar hidden gems. We intentionally wanted our families to use our event to be better prepared for other college fairs and college visits. Being prepared with the right questions, being ready to present themselves well to college reps, and being alert for any information that could contribute to their ultimate college decisions can be game changers. It was a great event, and we’ve already begun planning our next college fair,” said David Dillard, CEO of KD College Prep.

16 Things To Do At Your Next College Fair

Before the Fair

Find out which colleges will be there.

In the days leading up to the event, try and find out which colleges will be there, keeping in mind that you may see some last-minute additions. Sometimes that information is available on the organizer’s website or event posting. Other times, you may have to wait until closer to the event date or contact the organizer.

If a list is available, review it and make note of a few college booths you want to visit. This is particularly helpful for large-scale college fairs that may feature more than 100 colleges. For smaller events or those where a list of attendees is not available, keep in mind that this is an opportunity to visit with colleges you may not have heard of and explore college options. Plus, you can always do a quick walkthrough at the beginning of the fair to see all the colleges in attendance.

Start thinking deeply about the type of college you want to attend.

When attending these events in 10th or 11th grade, you won’t need to have a finalized list of colleges in mind. You should, however, have already started thinking about college and the type of school that will make you happy. You’re still growing and your opinions about some things will change, but you may have already discovered a few things that are really important to you.

Attending this event will remind you that college is not that far off. It’s likely that you’ll be in a mindset that starts to explore important questions about your future. Keep track of these thoughts and realizations in a notebook or notes app on your phone so that you can come back to them when narrowing down your college list.

Have a list of questions ready.

As we noted in the previous point, this event is an excellent opportunity to start thinking about your ideal college. You’ll want to come prepared with a list of questions that will help you paint a picture of what life will be like at a particular college.

Some Ideas of Questions to Ask:

  • What types of students thrive at your college?
  • What does the average class size look like?
  • What are the most popular majors at your college?
  • What is the local area like that surrounds the campus?
  • Do most students live on or off campus?
  • What are some popular student organizations?
  • What are some fun things to do around campus?
  • What can you tell me about (insert major)?
  • What is the academic workload like for (insert major)?
  • Does the college offer any helpful resources or support services for struggling students?
  • What is something unique about your college?
  • Is the college undergoing any new changes?
  • How do most students cover the cost of tuition?
  • How does this college compare to (insert college)?
  • Does your college offer merit-based scholarships?
  • What’s the likelihood of finding a job on or near campus?
  • Does your college have any professional development or internship programs?
  • How do I sign up for further opportunities to learn about the college? (campus tours, info sessions, special events, etc.)

Types of Questions to Avoid:

  • Don’t ask about your admissions chances.
  • Don’t ask questions that you can easily look up on Google.
  • Don’t only ask questions about prestige or rankings.

Invite your parents, but this is your event.

College fairs are an excellent opportunity for parents as well. The college admissions process often involves their input, so it’s helpful for them to explore and learn about college options as well. And sometimes, it’s best for them to hear about a college straight from the source. Ultimately, deciding where to apply will be up to you, but your parents may think of practical questions you didn’t think of or provide a different perspective. But remember, you should be the one driving the conversation and asking the questions. After all, you will be the one going off to college.

Practice introducing yourself.

Part of the high school experience is learning how to put yourself out there. It all starts with knowing how to introduce yourself in a professional manner. One of the most valuable aspects of attending college fairs is that it gives you the opportunity to talk to admissions officers. Having a little practice may serve you well if you are invited to interviews later on in the admissions process.

Introducing yourself to a complete stranger may feel off at first, and it might help to practice in front of the mirror a few times before the event, especially if social interactions make you anxious.

Dress appropriately.

As a high school student, you may not realize how much your physical appearance plays into someone’s opinion of you. If you show up in a t-shirt and sweatpants, it may come off that you’re not really interested in being at the event. But if you show up dressed up in business casual attire, then it shows that you came to the event with a sense of purpose.

To clarify, don’t show up in a tuxedo or formal dress. A nice shirt with a pair of slacks or mid-length skirt will do just fine.

Pack a small tote bag.

Colleges will give you lots of things to take with you, so stay organized by bringing a small tote bag with you to keep everything in one place. If you’re a current student, use your red KD drawstring backpack to keep all your things in one place.

You’ll also want to bring a few things with you:

  • A notepad and pen – Be prepared to take notes that you can refer back to later.
  • Contact information – You’ll want to bring your contact information to give to colleges. One cool hack is to create sticker labels with your name, high school, grad year, email address, phone number, and program interests. Many colleges will have sheets for collecting student contact information, and this helps speed up the process of adding yours.
  • List of questions – We’ve already explained that it’s helpful to have a list of questions on hand, especially if there’s anything specific you want to learn about a college.

Eat something and keep yourself hydrated.

Sometimes high school life gets so busy that it’s hard to remember to take care of yourself! This is especially true if the college fair takes place after a long day at school. If you take a moment to drink enough water and eat something before the event, you’re more likely to appear energized and happy to attend.

During the Fair

Leave a good impression.

If you’ve followed our advice so far, you’re showing up to the event dressed appropriately and with a few talking points in mind. Now, it’s time to conduct yourself in a manner that will leave a lasting first impression.

Some advice for how to talk to admissions representatives:

  • Introduce yourself with confidence – Greet admissions staff with a joyful “hello”, shake hands, tell them who you are, and don’t forget to smile. As we noted above, practicing beforehand helps!
  • Make eye contact and speak clearly – The room is likely buzzing with conversation, so be sure to give the admissions rep your full attention. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact and project your voice so they can hear you.
  • Take charge of your experience – Don’t follow your friends around the whole time. Don’t let your parents do the talking. This is your chance to show your maturity by taking control of your future plans.
  • Remember, this isn’t an admissions interview – This is not the time or place to go over your college resume, GPA, test scores, etc. Save that information for your college applications.
  • Make it a conversation – You want to find answers to your questions, but don’t make it a pop quiz for the college rep. Use your questions as a starting point, but also try to find connection with the information shared. Communicate your enthusiasm for the things that matter most to you.
  • Take a deep breath and be yourself – While it’s important to put yourself out there, don’t try to bend or reshape yourself too much to align with what a college wants in a candidate. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right fit for you.

Be efficient with your time.

Try not to spend the whole time at the college fair at one booth. Other students will be waiting to speak with the same admissions officer. Be courteous (see below). Our recommendation is that students should spend no more than five minutes talking to a college rep. Come prepared with your top questions (like those recommended above). It’s best to arrive at the start of the event to ensure that you have time to talk to all the colleges on your list.

Be courteous to others.

College fairs are sometimes crowded, so be patient and show politeness to others. Don’t push or shove, keep the walkways clear, and don’t make rude comments to rush others. Remember, your actions are also a reflection of who you are.

Collect information.

Each college will have printed resource materials such as brochures, info cards, college merch, etc. available for you to take with you. These can be invaluable when thinking about where to apply later on in your journey. Remember to take notes when talking to admissions reps. You’ll want to keep track of anything interesting and write down any impressions you have about a college. And don’t forget to ask for the college rep’s business card or direct contact information.

Keep an open mind.

We know that college rankings and prestige are an important factor when deciding on where to go to college. But during a college fair, you have the chance to pull back the curtain and really dive into what makes a college a great fit for you. Don’t be afraid to explore the event and try to find a hidden gem that you may not have heard about yet. There are many factors that go into finding the right fit, and having an open mind early on in the process will only help strengthen your satisfaction with a final decision.

After the Fair

Review the information collected.

Plan a time within a few days or weeks of the college fair to evaluate the information you collected. Were there any colleges that stood out to you? What colleges should you cross off your list? It’s best to do this while the event is still fresh on your mind.

Send thank you emails.

It never hurts to thank the hardworking college rep that helped you during the event. Send an email that shows your appreciation for their time and highlights anything that they shared that you found particularly helpful.

Take advantage of additional opportunities.

After you’ve had time to review the colleges that appeal to you most, it’s time to take advantage of any additional opportunities to learn more about what life will be like at a college. Planning college visits, scheduling information sessions, attending open houses, or following college social media accounts are all additional ways for you to continue learning about a college.

Need help applying for college?

At KD College Prep, our college counseling services help students explore college options and prepare for college applications. Schedule a free consultation to find a program that fits your needs.

Emily Brehe-Gunter is the digital marketing director at KD College Prep.

WE’RE ALWAYS READY TO CHAT

Reach out to schedule your free consultation today.


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David P. – Class of 2022

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Kareena A. – Class of 2021

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Advika R. – Class of 2022

“I shifted toward taking practice tests and going to workshops because I felt those were the best ways to apply the concepts (I was) learning in class. I started applying the tips and tricks that the teachers were showing me in class. In conjunction, those two things helped me raise my score a lot because I was not a math kid before KD or high school. The repetition and being able to practice in a non-stressful environment and simulating that testing experience is something that was very beneficial for me... “The college counseling team was super patient and honest about the work I was submitting. I know for a lot of kids, it’s hard to articulate who you are through 250-300 words. It was definitely... Read more...
“I shifted toward taking practice tests and going to workshops because I felt those were the best ways to apply the concepts (I was) learning in class. I started applying the tips and tricks that the teachers were showing me in... Read more...

Blaine W. – Class of 2021

“Both of my sons have been guided by KD College Prep counselor Steve Peifer on their journey to finding the right college for them, and we could not have had a better experience and outcome. My oldest son is now a rising junior at the University of Miami, and my youngest son is an incoming freshman at Vanderbilt University. Steve’s help in navigating the complicated college landscape and finding the BEST FIT for my two sons is what has made this resource invaluable. “What made the biggest difference for my two sons was the depth and breadth of knowledge Steve has of the many universities and colleges in the U.S. First, by getting to know my kids on a one-on-one basis, he was able to... Read more...
“Both of my sons have been guided by KD College Prep counselor Steve Peifer on their journey to finding the right college for them, and we could not have had a better experience and outcome. My oldest son is now a... Read more...

Julio M. – Parent

“My daughter loved the program—the program materials and the teachers both online and in person. She participated in a year of online and a year of in person. It was incredible enrichment and helped her keep her skills sharp over the summer. She liked being challenged academically, and she loved taking classes with high school students who were focused on their college goals. These students were also excellent role models! The lessons were especially important during the pandemic when it wasn’t a typical middle school experience.”
“My daughter loved the program—the program materials and the teachers both online and in person. She participated in a year of online and a year of in person. It was incredible enrichment and helped her keep her skills sharp over the... Read more...

Beth L. – Advanced Start™ Parent

test prep testimonial vyom
“I wanted to say thank you to all of the teachers and directors at KD for helping me get a great score on the SAT® test. I started with a 1250 on the first KD test I took, and I got a 1530 on the December 5th SAT test. KD played a huge role in this, and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone there for helping me achieve this.”
“I wanted to say thank you to all of the teachers and directors at KD for helping me get a great score on the SAT® test. I started with a 1250 on the first KD test I took, and I got... Read more...

Vyom S. – Class of 2022

"Our twin 16-year-old boys used KD College Prep to study/practice for the PSAT test, and we believe the classes and coaching were invaluable. Very professional and concise. Worth every penny!"
"Our twin 16-year-old boys used KD College Prep to study/practice for the PSAT test, and we believe the classes and coaching were invaluable. Very professional and concise. Worth every penny!"

Jerry – Sons, Class of 2022

mithra testimonial
“I'm writing to thank the KD team for all the help and guidance over the last couple of years! All the resources provided were very useful to me and helped me achieve the scores I was aiming for on the PSAT, SAT®, and ACT® tests (1520, 1580, and 34). I really appreciate everyone's willingness to be flexible and accommodate my requests!”
“I'm writing to thank the KD team for all the help and guidance over the last couple of years! All the resources provided were very useful to me and helped me achieve the scores I was aiming for on the PSAT,... Read more...

Mithra A. – Class of 2022

"The resources that KD offers have greatly prepared me for the college admissions process. Without KD, I would not have been this prepared and confident... I am a rising senior, and I ended up receiving a 1570 on my SAT® test (third time) and a 35 on my ACT® test (first time). I remember the first ever practice test I took for the SAT test was a 1230 (about 1.5 yrs ago) and the first ever practice test I took for the ACT test was a 31 or 32 (about 6 months ago)."
"The resources that KD offers have greatly prepared me for the college admissions process. Without KD, I would not have been this prepared and confident... I am a rising senior, and I ended up receiving a 1570 on my SAT® test... Read more...

Elise P. – Class of 2022

“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents very informative and helpful during the process as well.  My son (Jacob) graduated in 2018 and got a 32 on the ACT test. got accepted into Texas A&M but chose Baylor for Health Sciences.  My daughter (Morgan) graduated in 2020 and got a 1450 on the SAT test and a 32 on the ACT test. got into an Ivy League school (Cornell) for Engineering.  Both my kids say that they apply the test taking skills they learned at KD Prep to... Read more...
“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents... Read more...

Jon D. – Parent

“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard and other schools, but I've really started to immerse into the Emory culture, especially their debate team. Not having to pay for college and still attend a private institution is really a dream come true, and it wouldn't be possible if it were not for you.”
“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard... Read more...

Shreyas R. – Class of 2020

“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a good school will help me find my path. Also, Steve's knowledge about what colleges were wanting to see in potential admissions candidates was a huge help... “There was not one specific beneficial moment or turning point in my time working with Steve, there were many. He encouraged me during the entire application process and brought to my attention many colleges I wouldn't have considered or heard about without his help.”
“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a... Read more...

Jake W. – Class of 2020

"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."
"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."

Zarni, Daughter – Class of 2021

"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."
"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."

Claire I. – Class of 2020

"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."
"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."

Gopi C. – Class of 2021

"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made sure that I would be successful in whichever college I picked, and I am eternally grateful for all their help and hard work!"
"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made... Read more...

Omar S. – Class of 2020

"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by far the most concerned about. I didn’t know how exactly I should go about choosing which places to apply to and if I were to be accepted, if they would fit me. The team did a wonderful job considering my likes and dislikes and helped me compile a list of colleges that suited my tastes and would further my academic career. "After this integral first step, my focus turned towards time management and writing quality essays that would stand out to colleges. I got... Read more...
"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by... Read more...

Nina H. – Class of 2020

"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."
"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."

Morgan D. – Class of 2020

"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."
"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."

Tiffany – Son, Class of 2021

"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students wanting an edge on their national test scores!"
"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students... Read more...

Daniel J. – Class of 2020

"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."
"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."

Sam H. – Class of 2020

"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the help from amazing teachers and staff. I am so grateful for KD!"
"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the... Read more...

Matt K. – Class of 2020

"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."
"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."

Thomas D. – Class of 2019

"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."
"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."

Piper F. – Class of 2020

"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."
"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."

Kathy – Son attends Mizzou

test prep testimonial grace
“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure out a personal plan that would work for her and were always available for our questions and helping her reach her goals. Every employee from the managers to the students working at their locations are top notch.”
“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure... Read more...

Tracy – Daughter, Class of 2020

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

Prema – Daughter attends Rice