Each fall across the US there are many college fair events where students and parents can talk to representatives from college and universities to gather information and ask questions. Some fairs are aimed specifically students who are interested in the performing and visual arts.
If you are within driving distance of Rochester, you should definitely consider attending the Upstate New York Music College Fair. We have put together the following tips to help you get the most out of any college fair:
- It is never too early. You’ll want to be thinking about college options throughout your high school years. Sophomore and junior years are an excellent time to attend college fair to learn about a wide range of options. If you are a senior, your “short list” may be close to complete, but you can still get useful information and answer to specific questions you may have about applications and auditions. Freshmen and younger students are also encouraged to attend, as are parents and siblings.
- Make a plan. Before going to the college fair, spend some time looking at the list of attending schools and making a plan about which ones you definitely want to speak with. Target five to eight schools that you either want to learn more about, or are definitely thinking of applying to. You won’t have time to speak with every school, so having a game plan will help you stay focused. There will also be plenty of brochures and printed materials available.
- Do your research. Visit school websites and develop a list of specific questions that you want to ask the college representatives during the fair. You will likely have different questions for different schools. Walking up to a college rep and saying something along the lines of “I don’t know anything about your school. What can you tell me?” is not a great way to start. Think carefully about what matters to you, and what is unclear to you about the process. Every school is different, so it is important to look beneath the surface to examine those differences. Also be ready to discuss your specific interests and goals in college so that the college representatives can focus on aspects that will be meaningful for you.
- Address labels (or a scan code) are your secret weapon. Print a sheet of labels that include the following pieces of info (1) your name, (2) email address (3) mailing address (4) high school graduation year (5) desired major (such as music performance, composition, music education), and (6) instrument. When you are invited to provide this information to join college mailing lists, you won’t need to write it again and again. Instead you will be able to focus a face-to-face discussion. Also note that some college fairs provide scan codes that schools can use to capture this information from your fair registration.
- Speak for yourself. Families have a very important role in the college search, and parents in particular can offer invaluable advice on your college choice. However, you want to make sure that you are part of the conversation too. Don’t expect your parents to lead the way by asking all of the questions. Your college experience will be your own, so now is the time to get comfortable talking with the people who can help to guide you. The representatives you meet at a college fair may be admissions counselors, alums, and/or faculty members. They will be eager to learn about your interests and help you find the answers you are looking for.
We hope these tips are helpful, and we look forward to seeing you at an upcoming college fair!