It’s College Fair Season

travelThe weather is heating up and so are colleges’ travel calendars. As colleges wrap up their Class of 2023 students (2019 high school graduates), they are heading back out on the road to market their colleges to juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. A college fair is a great educational opportunity for students and parents as well as an opportunity for students to demonstrate interest in a college (as your attendance and communication with individual colleges are tracked). The fair can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan, so keep reading to learn about tips to make the most of your college fair visit, as well as a list of upcoming college fairs and events.

It is a good idea to decide on some schools in advance that you want to check out and to head to those tables first. Do some basic internet research ahead of time, so that you are not asking questions that have readily available answers on the school website. If a parent is unavailable, go with a friend. Have the friend take notes for you while you are talking about your interests and asking questions. You do the same for her/him. Once you have spoken with a few colleges, it’s easy to get confused about which college had which program. These notes will help you when it comes to filling out college applications, so keep them in a place where you can find them and be sure to record the date you spoke with the rep and get his/her name.

Walk up to the college’s table/booth. Shake hands firmly with the admissions representative. Offer your name, graduation year and your school, and make sure you have them scan your barcode.

Potential questions to get you started:

  • What can you tell me about your _______________ department/program?
  • What are some distinctive, special or unique programs to your college?
  • What type of students do well at your school? What kind of student finds it a poor fit?
  • What programs do you offer to help first-year students adjust to college?
  • What programs do you have that serve (insert your needs/background here)?
  • What kind of tutoring or academic help is available?
  • Do you have any special housing options?
  • What do students do for fun on campus? (Ask about specific clubs or activities in which you are interested).
  • Do you offer buses or transportation to a city or other off-campus programs?
  • Do you offer Greek (fraternities & sororities) life? What percentage of students participates?
  • Does your school meet full demonstrated need? If not, what percent of need do you typically meet? What percentage of students receive merit aid? Is there an early scholarship deadline? What is the average debt of graduating students?
  • What companies recruit on campus for __________ majors? Where do students get hired?

handshake.jpgShare your interests, as it will allow the representative to highlight programs in which you may have interest.

Grab his/her business card and send a thank you email when you get home. Let the rep know what you appreciated learning about the school. Make sure to check your grammar and spelling.

Joint college presentations have a different format. Students register in advance to attend a presentation that is usually hosted in a large ballroom. You check in when arrive, grab a snack, and then take a seat. The colleges will spend 45-60 minutes talking in general about their highly selective schools, and will then give a short specific presentation about their institutions. They usually field general audience questions at the end, as well as stick around for a while to answer college-specific questions after the audience is dismissed. While your attendance is tracked, your specific questions do not give you extra demonstrated interest “points”, so relax and just ask genuine questions that you would like answered.

Below are some upcoming opportunities to meet with college representatives (many more will happen in the fall):

The PNACAC (Pacific Northwest National Assoc. for College Admission Counseling) Spring College Fair is on April 28 from 12-3 pm at the University of Portland Chiles Center. See the current list of attendees here and register here. When you sign up, StriveScan will send you a barcode via text message and email. After the fair, you will receive a report on the colleges and representatives you met with, along with contact information and social media profiles.

The Jesuit Excellence Tour is Tuesday, April 30th from 6-7:30 pm at the Jesuit High School Student Center (9000 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Portland, OR 97225). No registration is needed, but you will have the opportunity to fill out an information card at each college’s table (a great thing for a parent to do while students are waiting in line or speaking with the representative). Students from all Portland-area high schools are welcome to attend, and will have the opportunity to meet representatives from the following schools:

Marquette University, Regis University, Saint Louis University, Saint Peter’s University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University University of San Francisco, College of the Holy Cross, Creighton University, Fairfield University, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Loyola University Maryland.

Questions? Contact Claire Silva, Associate Director of Admission,

meetingExploring Educational ExcellenceBrownChicagoColumbiaCornell, and Rice traveled here last spring, but will not be doing so this year. If you are interested in these schools, consider visiting, as well as thoroughly research the schools and application requirements early (click the links above for admission requirements). Rice and the University of Chicago strongly consider demonstrated interest; Ivy League schools state that they do not. However, it can be challenging to write a convincing “Why this school?” essay without visiting, and they admit around 50% of students via Early Decision, which is the ultimate demonstration of interest. So, I think they do care!

Exploring College Options:  Exploring College Options is a joint presentation from Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University. The event is Tuesday, May 14, at 7:00 pm
and held at the Crowne Plaza Portland – Downtown Convention Center (1441 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232). Check back here later this month to register (registration is required).

Coast-To-Coast TourThis is a joint travel partnership among Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Princeton University, University of California-Berkeley, and Vanderbilt University. Check back later this spring for dates on their appearance in Portland:

Colleges That Change Lives: Interested in having small class sizes, mentoring relationships with your professors, opportunities for leadership and the ability to double major and minor? Check out the Colleges That Change Lives at their Portland summer fair on July 31st They will be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, Cascade Ballroom, 1000 NE Multnomah, Portland 97232.

National College Fairs: The NACAC (National Assoc. for College Admission Counseling) College Fair will be traveling across the country again this fall, and will stop in Portland, Oregon on October 27th and 28th.  Hundreds of colleges from across the country will be present, with representatives available to answer last minute questions for seniors, as well as provide information on programs and offerings to freshman through juniors.  Mark it on your calendar:, and check back in September to register.

NACAC Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs: Interested in pursuing a college degree in music, theater, art, dance, or other related disciplines? Check out NACAC’s college fair featuring universities, colleges and conservatories specializing in art programs on September 16th (6:30-8:30 pm) at the Portland Art Museum. For more information or to find this event in other cities, go here: Here is information on Portland’s event specifically.

National Portfolio Day: For students preparing a portfolio for their applications into art, design, film or architecture programs, mark your calendars for early January 2020 (the date has not been set, but last year it was January 6th). National Portfolio Day is an event specifically for visual artists and designers. It is an opportunity for those who wish to pursue an education in the visual and related arts to meet with representatives from colleges accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.  Representatives will be available to review your artwork, discuss their programs and answer questions about professional careers in art. Check back here for the specific date, as well as tips for preparing to attend: Here is a list of the colleges that attended last year’s event.

*Dates above are specific to Portland, OR, but all programs host events across the country.