Organizing and planning a college fair is no small task, but the benefits make all the efforts worthwhile. Here are a few helpful hints to ease the process.
Planning a college fair
Start with a budget. Planning a college fair can get very expensive. Charge colleges a fee to attend. How much you charge will depend on factors such as location, date and the schools attending. How many colleges would you like to attend at your fair? Do you want to invite only local colleges or open it up to colleges out of state? Keep in mind that postage is very expensive, and everyone that you invite will not attend.
Now there’s the challenge of finding a place that can accommodate the number of colleges, students and parents who will attend. The key is to find a place large enough and that is centrally located. Do they have tables and chairs you can use, or will you rent them?
Most college fairs are either in the fall or early spring. This is the time when students are thinking about the college process. You may want to investigate other college fairs in the area before making your final decision. College reps love to be able to hit multiple fairs with a minimal amount of travel.
Once you have a date, have reserved a location and mailed the invitations, what’s next?
Finding help. Student volunteers are great resources. They can help during the planning stages as well as on the day of the fair. Contact local high schools with details. Make sure this is done in advance, so the date is reserved on school calendars.
Send out reminders as the fair gets closer. Advertise again and again, as the success of your college fair will depend on it. If students and parents don’t attend, college reps will not attend the following year.
Contact TV and radio stations, the media and local service organizations. Remember that publicity is an integral factor to the success of your college fair. Make it news, and sell it as a story.
On the day of the event, make sure you are organized. Make sure you have multiple lists of the attending colleges. You will always have a few colleges show up unannounced. Do you have a central information station set up where people can ask questions? Do you have enough volunteers to ensure the fair will run smoothly?
Be hospitable. Supply refreshments or a snack, keeping in mind that some college reps have traveled a long way. Finally, make yourself available the day of the fair. Walk around to see how things are going. Pass out a survey to ask college reps how you did. Most importantly, have fun!
Michael DiGennaro is a counselor at Canandaigua Academy in Canandaigua, N.Y.