The 2015-16 school year is in full swing and it is my hope that each student is engaged and excited about the learning taking place in many classes.   As discussed in former blogs, the high school transcript is indeed the key factor in the admissions decision.   You’re invited to read my previous newsletter outlining strategies for success and specific solutions to implement in challenging and time-consuming classes.   Please schedule an appointment to review your approach to time management and to create customize learning strategies to keep you focused on the goals of your strategic educational plan.

Fall is College Fair season!   At the end of the newsletter I’ve provided a list of college fairs taking place in South Florida, including the Annual College Fair at Boca Raton Community High on Tuesday September 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.  Please stop at my booth to say hello!

It’s never too early to attend a college fair to learn about a variety of colleges including those you may have overlooked. You have an opportunity to learn about academic majors, social life and to inquire about interesting summer programs that may be appropriate for current sophomores and juniors.

Seniors should have confirmed their list of schools.  A college fair is also an opportunity to gain information to narrow a list that may still be too long.

Some tips for making the most of your college fair attendance:

    If you have time, pre-print some cards/sticky labels with your name, high school, graduation date and email address to avoid having to fill out forms while at the fair!Collect business cards from admissions representatives. If you learned something unique and valuable, send a thank-you email within 48 hours (see more below).  Some colleges, such as Princeton University have a practice of keeping copies of all student communications in your admissions file.

Please make sure the email address you’re using isn’t a source of embarrassment.  If you don’t already have a firstname.lastname Gmail or yahoo account- now is the time to create and utilize that account for all your college needs.

Previously I wrote about locking down your Facebook account. If you hit the “like” button for a college, they can see everything.  Please don’t post pictures that present a less than flattering image of you.  Yes, you’re 15 or 16 years old and having a great time in this stage of life.  That said, use your best judgment on how you present yourself.  Please set your FB privacy settings so only “friends” get to see photos rather than “friends of friends”.

    In my previous blog I spoke about the importance of demonstrating informed interest in your college application.  If you have a short list of schools, do your homework and make the most of your time at the college fair.  Don’t wander the aisles. You cannot stop at 100 college booths in two hours.Make a plan to target the schools of interest and bring a specific list of questions that you CANNOT find answers to on the college’s website.  Ask admissions officers the tough questions:“What percentage of graduating seniors have found employment six months after graduation?”
    “What percentage of freshman find a summer internship through the career center?”

“Our family isn’t eligible for financial aid. Does your college offer merit based scholarships?”
“What’s the maximum class size and the average class size in my intended major?”

“What percentage of classes are taught by actual full-time faculty as compared to adjuncts and graduate students”

“Is alcohol a ‘problem’ on campus?”

“What support services exist for academic and emotional support if I need it?”

After you’ve hit your target list of schools, time permitting — be adventurous and wander into the booths of schools that you never heard of and perhaps you’ll be very surprised.

    Well, not exactly. You’re not attending a career fair (that occurs in college) and you don’t need to have a 2 minute pitch about yourself.  Your opportunity to sell yourself is during the college admissions cycle on your Common Application.   The fair is for YOU!!  Admissions representatives want to interest you in the college they represent.   So don’t be shy, speak up and ask the tough questions above.Parents, your child is wonderful and you mean well, but nothing screams louder than a chatty parent as a potential indicator of a student’s lack of independence and self-direction.  Please while it might seem obvious, don’t “brag” to the admissions representative. In fact, parents, it would be best if your son/daughter does most of the talking outside of questions about financial aid and campus safety!   Parents, please avoid sentences using “we” because as I know you already understand fully–you are not applying or attending college!Students: Think of a college fair as a college interview on training wheels.   Learning to feel confident speaking with admissions representatives while a sophomore and junior is great practice for the alumni and campus interviews taking place during your senior year.  Take chances, make mistakes, and just dive in!  There’s nothing you can say that will be remembered and held against you later.
    Sophomores and juniors should use the evening to gather information about summer programs in potential academic areas of interest.  In particular, women and minorities should ask about special programs that are designated in majors typically under-represented by women and minorities. Such programs are highly competitive and often free of cost.
    The college fair is an excellent opportunity to jump start your campus research in anticipation of junior year campus visits.  In my earlier blog I wrote about how to research colleges in advance of expensive campus tours (airfare & lodging add up!).     Ask about upcoming campus visits that are scheduled specifically for juniors or for admitted seniors.  Some colleges schedule “diversity” weekends and offer financial assistance for attendance.
  • AFTER the FAIR:
    a) Send a thank you note to any admissions officer that spent more than 2 minutes with you to hand you a brochure. If you shared a joke or an experience, reference the memory jogging point of your conversation.  Sending a thank-you note is an opportunity to reinforce your interest in the school.
    b) Organize the materials collected while things are still fresh in your mind. Review which colleges stood out and take some time to enter a few thoughts in your notes to set the stage for subsequent college research, a potential campus visit and an input into a summer application essay.
    c) Discard any brochures of colleges you’ve eliminated so you can stay focused on schools that interested you the most.

College Fairs in Palm Beach County:  

September 29 Tuesday  6 -8 pm Boca Raton Community High School

October 12 Monday  4 -7 pm NACAC College Fair Broward County Convention Center

October 17 Saturday  Sunshine Invitational College Fair St. Andrews High School

October 19  Monday 6 – 9 pm Pope John Paul II High School fair

October 21  Tuesday Benjamin School  7 – 8:30 pm

October 22 Thursday  6-8 p.m.  Palm Beach County College Fair at County Fairgrounds