College Fair March 22: 5 Tips Parents Need to Know

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Is your teen entering the college hunt? Take it from a mom who has traveled this route before, finding the right college means starting early and doing research on prospective schools. The Greater Raleigh National College Fair coming Tuesday, March 22, 4:30-7:30 p.m. to the Raleigh Convention Center is worth attending for any student who wants to explore options, from schools to financial aid.

Representatives from nearly 200 colleges in North Carolina and across the U.S. will be at the free fair ready to answer your questions. During the fair, which is a program of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), you and your teen can attend special workshops on application tips, essay writing, financing a college education and more.

Why go?

You and your son or daughter will have a chance to talk directly with representatives from many colleges at once and get your questions answered in detail. Attending a college fair allows you to get a feel for which college might be a good fit without heading out to every prospective college. Narrowing your field of choices saves you time and money on actual college visits.

Also, your son or daughter will be able to sign up to get more information from the colleges, and in so doing, gain visibility before college representatives. Showing interest in a prospective college by attending a fair — or visiting the campus — illustrates to colleges that your student is interested in particular colleges, which helps him or her stand out from the crowd. For details on why this matters read “Demonstrate Interest in Your Prospective College," by Dave Bergman, one of the team of college planning experts who blogs for Carolina Parent.  

Here’s what I wished I’d known before I attended my first college fair.

1. Make sure you register for the fair at this link. These events are crowded, so if you wait to register when you get there, you’ll be waiting in long lines. After registering for the fair, print the bar code identification and take it with you to the fair. (When you visit the college reps, they can scan your barcode getting your information quickly, which gives you more time to ask your questions.)

2. Look up colleges that will be represented at the fair so you have a game plan for which booths you’d like to visit. 

3. Before you heading out, think through and write down a list of questions you would like answered, including any you have for specific colleges.

4. When you get to the fair, pick up the on-site locator for the latest school list and a booth location map.

5. Last but not least, let your student take the lead in asking questions, especially if you have a shy or introverted student. Doing so, will help him or her gain confidence and being prepared with questions will help him or her step forward independently into college life.

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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