College Fairs – Don’t just grab and go!

Angela Herrera '03, Associate Director
Angela Herrera '03, Associate Director

This is a busy time of year for college fairs and my colleague, Angela Herrera, ‘03, MPA ‘08, Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment (and a college fair expert), has some tips for you.

My name is Angela Herrera and I am the Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment. I graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs in 2008. I REALLY love my Cornell!

College fair season is almost upon us, which means the admissions office is getting hundreds of invitations to attend various fairs across the country and around the world. As a seasoned admissions officer who has done many college fairs, I want to offer some advice to help make the most of our time together at these events.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t grab and go. We are there to talk to you! Stop by, say “hi,” and ask, “May I take a brochure? Does this brochure have the list of majors?” Engage us in conversation.

2. Have a game plan. Most fairs provide a list of colleges attending ahead of time, and it’s best to do some research in advance. Are there schools you have specific questions about? Schools you’ve never heard of but want to learn more about? Are there states represented that you can’t visit? (Here’s your time to meet with someone from there!) Do some schools have certain majors or programs you’re looking for? These are all great questions that can be answered in advance by looking at a school’s website. Learn a little bit before meeting with the admissions person standing behind the table and use your time for follow-up questions. Also, be sure to bring a notebook to take notes on your conversations.

  • Come prepared with questions. No one expects you to know about every single school at a fair, so asking “Where are you located?” is okay if you truly don’t know. If you really want to make an impression, don’t ask the following questions (they are our pet-peeve questions and offer nothing of value to you):
  • Can you tell me about your school? Of course I can tell you about my school. I can talk for hours and hours about my school. What would you like to know? Instead, ask direct questions, questions you really are curious about.
  • What is your most popular major? What are you known for? Instead, ask about what you want to study and if you are able to do that at the school.
  • Do you have a medical school, medical major, medicine, or vet school/major, law school/major? As an undergraduate student you are not able to attend medical, law, or veterinary school, nor are you able to study medicine, law or veterinary medicine until you complete a bachelor’s degree. Instead, ask about pre-med, pre-law, or pre-vet programs, as these are designed to help students who are considering graduate school prepare for graduate school admission. Also, at most schools the pre-professional programs are not majors, so you should be thinking about what you would like to study while participating in the pre-med/pre-vet/pre-law track. For more on this see:
  • How’s your _______ major? This is a funny question. I will always say, “Amazing!” Instead, ask “Can you tell me about your _____ major?”

4. Finally, for the parents reading this, I have one request: Let your student do the talking. The fairs are for the students and their questions, first and foremost. We are happy to talk to parents, but preferably after students have had the chance to speak. If you have questions, please take a business card and feel free to call us at our offices, where you will have our full attention.

4 thoughts on “College Fairs – Don’t just grab and go!

  1. Helen, Cornell’s participation in college fairs and high school visits is very limited. We encourage students to visit campus to learn about what they are most interested in:

  2. Does Cornell participate in the any college fair or visit any high schools on Long Island, New York? If yes then when were the events in 2011? Thanks.

  3. Does Cornell superscore the SATs and ACTs? I would ask at a college fair, but I don’t know of any coming up in my area. However, thanks for the tips!

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