Making the most of a US or international university fair

Canada / Guides / USA

Around the world, students have opportunities to attend international university fairs.

To support students attending these events, here is a guide to making the most out of the opportunities to make a good impression and have questions answered:

Key point:

  • Many of the people representing the universities are the actual people who will read your application and who will recommend to their colleague if their university should admit you or not. Therefore, this is more than just a fact-finding exercise, but potentially a key step in your application.

Before the fair:

  • Dress in appropriate clothing, either school uniform or smart / smart-casual

  • Consider creating a new email address specifically for college applications. The universities you meet will want to take down a contact email address and having one address for this is quite useful. Make sure the address you choose is appropriate and formal.

  • Plan ahead by looking through who will be attending the fair. Those of you who are in the current application cycle should be preparing questions to ask the representative (and not just simple questions which can be found on the first page of a website).

  • Arrange to speak to your primary advisor about which universities you should aim to speak with. This is a really great opportunity for you to explore the wealth of options out there – don’t simply only speak to those universities you have already heard of.

At the fair:

  • Please try to work out who is manning each stand (I can help with this if you are unsure). Rather than wasting your time in queuing to see someone who actually can’t really help you, please come and speak to us so that we can tell you which other stands it is worth your time visiting.

  • When you approach a representative, please introduce yourself formally.

  • Ask questions about the university, either those you have prepared yourself by researching beforehand or using the questions below. Take notes about what you’ve found out.

  • Make sure you get an email address and name of the person you spoke with so that you can follow up via email after the fair.

  • Check back in with us before you leave with your impressions and feedback from your college conversations.

After the fair:

  • Review all the materials you have been given, alongside your notes.

  • Follow up via email with the colleges that most interested you.

Some possible questions to ask:

  • What makes your college unique?

  • What academic programs is your college most known for?

  • How would you describe the kids that go there? Where do most of them come from?

  • Where do kids hang out on campus?

  • What happens on weekends—are there things to do on campus or in town, or do most kids go home?

  • Are fraternities and sororities a big part of campus life?

  • What are the housing options for freshmen?

  • Do many students live off campus?

  • Is there a sports complex or fitness centre?

  • What are the most popular clubs and activities?

  • What’s the security like on campus?

  • What’s the surrounding area like? Is it easy to get around?

  • What are the most popular majors?

  • How would you describe the academic pressure and workload?

  • What support services are available (academic advisers, tutors, etc.)?

  • What’s the faculty like? How accessible are they outside of class?

  • Are there opportunities for internships?

  • Is there job placement help for graduates?

  • Are any big changes in the works that I should know about?