Over the next two months or so, there will be hundreds of college fairs, visits to high schools, and admissions programs across the country. After having done well over a thousand programs of some sort during my admissions tenure, here are a few hints about how to handle yourself during a college admissions event and show off some college admissions program etiquette.
- When you go to a college fair, make sure to introduce yourself to the person behind the table. Feel free to ask them questions about admissions, academics, etc., but understand that if it is a large program, they may have to speak to a number of people besides you, so treat this more as gaining information and less like a 15 minute interview. As well, an admissions counselor would not be able to guess if you would be admissible or not (similar to what I always say about guessing on this blog). On the other end of the spectrum, don't race around the event like a 400 meter track event, grabbing whatever you can and stuffing it into a bag.
- If you fill out an information card, make sure that you do it at that colleges table, and not on the table of the college next to them. It is a small thing, but it will make sure that no neighboring college gets mad at the person with which you are interacting. As well, make sure you write neatly so we do not butcher your name or address, and know that it may take several weeks to get your information into a colleges database. In other words, do not expect something to be mailed out by the next morning.
- If you are among a group of people waiting to talk to the admissions person at a college fair, it may help to slide up beside them and listen to what the representative is saying. Generally, about 70% of the questions are very similar from student to student, and this may save both you and the representative time and effort.
- If you attend a college program during your school day, make sure that you actually want to hear what is said, and are not going just to get out of class. This is as much for allowing your fellow classmates to have more of a chance to speak to the college representative as it is to let the admission counselor focus on the truly interested students.
- Make sure to turn off your cell phone during the college visit (if cell phones are allowed at your school), and understand that this is not a time for texting friends. Give the representative your attention, and while we want you to feel free to ask questions, make sure you do not dominate the program (let others ask questions too!).
- When the visit is over and everyone is leaving, say thank you and, if you are really interested in this college, get a business card from the representative. If you really want to be polite (and if you thought the presentation was insightful!), write a quick thank you note. While this will not have an impact on a decision, it will probably make that representative's day when they get the card. You would be amazed at the number of admissions counselors who keep thank you notes tacked to their walls!