Prepare for attending college fair

Question: What should I know before I attend a college fair?

Answer: The annual National College Fair is coming to the Washington State Convention Center on Nov. 14 and 15. It is very well attended, especially on Sunday, making it wise to have a strategy before you go. If you want a list of schools that will be participating at the fair, search for NACAC on Google and follow the link for college fairs. Here you will find the schools that will be attendance and can also sign up for registration. This new feature allows you to register either online at home or at a kiosk at the fair itself. By entering your demographic information once, you will receive a barcoded pass card that can be flashed at each booth, allowing you to receive mail such as a view book or catalog from each college of interest. You will not need to fill out your name and address at each table. This will hopefully free up students and parents to spend more time asking questions of the college representatives and peruse literature about their schools.

I suggest that students come with a plan in mind so that they can use their time wisely. I would figure out in advance which schools they are interested in learning about, and do some research about that school prior to the fair. This way, you are not asking the college reps questions that could easily have been answered online. I suggest that you bring a notebook to take notes and keep the cards or contact information of the college representatives whom you spoke with in case further questions arise that cannot be found on their Web sites. I would ask questions that are more intangible, such as the culture of the school and the types of students who might do best at that particular school, instead of the size and the criteria for admission.

Throughout the day, there will be opportunities to hear talks about everything from financing your education, athletics and the NCAA, to essay writing, admission to selective schools and college testing.

College admission advisors like myself will be stationed at the fair to offer free advice for students and families seeking guidance.

Joan Franklin can be reached via her Web site at and by phone at (206) 232-5626.

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