20 Questions to Ask at College Fairs
As you go throughout high school, particularly during your Junior year, you ought to start thinking about which colleges you may want to apply to and form a preliminary college list. To help you narrow down your college choices and decide what schools would be a good fit for you, you can attend College Fairs in your school or local community.
College Fairs involve representatives from various universities coming to a school or community and pitching their university to prospective applicants. As a high school student, College Fairs are a great opportunity for you to show your interest in a particular college or university and ask questions to those who are most knowledgeable about the college.
It’s always good to come to College Fair prepared, and one of the best ways to do that is to prepare some questions to ask the college representatives so that you come across as an informed and serious applicant. To get you started, here are 20 great questions you could ask a college representative at a College Fair. Even if you don’t decide to ask some of these questions, you should still try to find their answers before you finalize your college list.
- Does your school offer [major/minor program]? If so, can you tell me about it?
You shouldn’t ask a college representative about which majors and minors the university offers because oftentimes a college offers too many programs to list. Instead, you can show that you’ve given your college and career some thought by asking about a specific major or minor that you may be interested in. If you haven’t quite narrowed down your prospective major all the way, you can ask about a specific discipline like the sciences or humanities.
- What program(s} is the college noted for?
Give the college representative a chance to brag about the college (they love doing that)! Ask them what majors or minors are the most accredited at the university and why. This will give you some good insight into what degree program gets the most resources and which majors are the most competitive for admission. After all, you may not want to major in philosophy at a university where most of the funding, attention, and resources goes towards the engineering department.
- Does the college offer any special programs like independent study, study abroad, etc?
If you already know that you’re going to want to participate in a unique program like study abroad while you’re in college, this is a crucial question to ask. You should make sure that the colleges you are applying to are meeting your requirements.
Moreover, even if you don’t intend on doing something like a study abroad as of right now, you ought to not rule out the option by attending a college that does not offer those special programs. Asking a question like this indicates that you are adventurous, open to new experience, and have thought in-depth about your college career and what you want to do during your four years in college.
- How do first-year students choose their classes?
This is a more important question than you might think. At some universities, freshman are given priority enrollment and can thus begin taking required courses for their degree as soon as they enter college. In other universities, however, freshman enroll later than other students and are given last priority, making it extremely hard to get into the classes they want. So if you’re trying to graduate early or pursue multiple majors in college, you should ask this question to clarify whether that would be possible at the university in question.
- In what SAT score range/ACT score range do most of the admitted students score in?
If you’ve already taken the SAT/ACT and have received your scores, this question can indicate where you stand in comparison to admitted students and what your chances are of getting admitted. You can also use this as a gauge of whether you need to take the test again to try and achieve a higher score.
On the other hand, if you haven’t taken the SAT/ACT yet, this question can give you a goal score range to aim for.
This question is also a good gauge of the competitiveness of the college or university. The higher the average standardized test score for the university, the more competitive the school’s college admission is likely to be.
- Are there any specific requirements for certain programs at the university?
Some colleges require extra application supplements like a portfolio, special interview, or audition (that one is mostly for performing arts majors). These requirements are not always obvious so it might be good to clarify with an admissions expert from the university.
If it turns out there are special requirements for the program you’re interested in, you can use the college fair as an opportunity to ask about and learn more about what the college wants to see in this extra supplement.
- Are certain majors more competitive to gain admission to than others?
When you fill out your college applications, you will likely have to list an “intended major”, and the admissions committee will make a decision on your application based on your credentials and the college’s availability in that particular major department. They may even compare your application to other students who also applied to that major.
Thus, it’s important to know how competitive it is to gain admission to a certain major in a college so that you can plan your college application accordingly. It may be beneficial to list an intended major on your application that is less competitive than your preferred major in order to gain admission to the university. To learn more about this strategy, see Choosing a Major For Your College Application.
- What percent of applicants are accepted to the university?
This question is a great way to gauge the competitiveness of a university’s college admissions. The lower the acceptance rate, the more competitive the university is. You should have a good mix of universities with low acceptance rates and high acceptance rates on your college list so that you apply to a good mix of safety and reach schools.
Financial Aid Questions
- What financial aid programs does the college have?
This is a pretty vague question, and you may not receive a very specific or detailed answer. What may happen, though, is that the college representative will ask you about your financial situation, starting a bigger conversation about financial aid options that tailor to your specific needs or qualifications. Alternatively, the college representative could refer you to a website or an office that you can contact to find out this information.
- What is the amount of the average financial aid package awarded to students at the university?
This is an important question not just for you as an applicant but for your family, who may be thinking about how they are going to afford to send you to college in a few years. You can use this question to decide whether attending a certain college is financially feasible, and you can also use the representative’s answer as a guideline for how you should be budgeting your money and saving for college during these next few years.
In general, you’ll probably find that private universities, while more expensive to attend, offer more financial aid, whereas public universities are cheaper but don’t always offer the same level of financial aid.
To learn more about saving for college and financially planning for your college years, see 3 Strategies for Students and Parents to Start Saving for College Now.
- Are there separate deadlines for admission and scholarship applications?
Sometimes, colleges include their financial aid applications within the college application itself. In other instances, there’s a separate application, or even multiple applications, for financial aid awarded from the university.
You should check with the college representative to make sure you won’t be missing any deadlines or have due dates for financial aid/scholarship applications sneak up on you. The college representative may even mention a financial aid resource or website that you didn’t know about before.
- Can you tell me about other fees and costs in addition to tuition?
Tuition is definitely not the only fee that universities charge, and it does not even remotely take into account the everyday costs of living in college. There are room and board fees, textbook fees, meal plan costs, etc. These costs tend to vary per university.
It’s worth asking this question to see how expensive it is to attend a particular college in comparison to other colleges you are considering. You can also use this question to see if the college representative mentions any college costs that you hadn’t thought of before.
Campus Life/Activities Questions
- Does your university have [name of club/organization/activity]?
If there is one activity or club that you know you want to continue participating in in college, feel free to ask the college representative if it already exists at the university. Just keep in mind that they may not know the answer if it’s a club that is not very common or well-known on the college campus.
Always keep in mind that if a club doesn’t exist on campus, you can start one! So if the college representative says that an organization isn’t yet established on campus, you can follow up and ask if it’s possible for students to create organizations on campus. This demonstrates initiative and enthusiasm to the college representative.
- What do students at the university usually do during their free time?
This question invites the college representative to tell you about the different on-campus and off-campus amenities along with various places to hang out. It’s an insider’s perspective that you may not be able to get by looking at an admissions website.
While the college representative is describing what students do in their free time, imagine yourself doing those same things. Do you see yourself doing the things a typical student at that university does? Use that answer to assess whether you think the college would be a good fit for you.
- Do many students live off campus?
The housing situation on campus can define the campus culture. For instance, if most students live in on-campus housing, you are likely to see more late-night activities on campus than if the school is mostly a commuter school. This question will also give you a brief idea of how you would be living for the next four years if you were to attend the university. You can assess whether the majority housing option sounds like something you would be comfortable with and use that to determine whether that college would be a good fit for you.
- Is there a sports complex or fitness center?
This question is important for your physical health more than anything else. Whilst in college, many students start to neglect basic healthy practices like a proper diet and exercise, making them stressed, unhygienic, and sometimes overweight.
You should make sure there are ways for you to comfortably and safely exercise on the college campus you attend so that you can maintain your good health and be able to perform to the best of your ability, and a campus fitness center is a great way to do that. If the college representative says that there are campus resources for exercise, feel free to ask whether the college charges a fee for using those facilities.
- Is there job placement help for graduates?
At the end of the day, you are going to college so that you can eventually get a job and begin your career. However, in a competitive job market, a college education won’t always guarantee you a great first job. Sometimes, you need some resources and assistance from your university like a career center, information sessions from companies, resume help, interview prep, etc to set you apart from other job applicants. You ought to make sure that the college you are attending has at least some of these career resources so that you’ll be set up for good job placement in the future.
- What do most graduates from the university go on to do?
Perhaps the college in question is great at getting students into graduate programs or med school, or perhaps their graduates are highly sought after by the Fortune 500 companies. You ought to attend a school whose alumni go on to do things that align with your post-college goals. If you do that, you’ll probably have an alumni network that can give you tips and potential job opportunities when it comes time for you to pursue your career.
- How big/helpful is the alumni network on campus?
Colleges who stay in touch with their alumni are often able to get those alumni to provide tips and resources to current students such as connections with grad schools and companies, interview and resume tips, and even just a friendly face to chat with. The bigger and more extensive the alumni network, the more resources you’ll have while attending the university.
- I want to do [job/career field] after college. Is there something at the university that could help me pursue that?
If you already know what career you want to pursue after college, feel free to bring it up! Perhaps the college representative will be able to tell you about some resources, clubs, organizations, or courses that could help you pursue your passion. Bringing up specific career goals shows that you are a thoughtful, motivated, and passionate student who is serious about a college education and a successful career.
For More Information
Now that you have some great questions to ask at college fairs under your belt, you may be wondering what else you need to know before you show up to a college fair. Well, CollegeVine has got you covered. Here are some previous blog posts that explain how you should approach these opportunities:
Interested in getting expert help in every part of the application process? Check out CollegeVine’s College Application Guidance Program. We’ll pair you with your own personal admissions specialist that will guide you through a comprehensive step-by-step process that will help you craft applications that give you the best chance of getting accepted. We can help you find the right schools to apply to based on your profile, craft perfect college essays, and prepare extensively for your interviews.
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