Category Archives: College Fairs

College Factors: What to Let Go and What to Embrace

round silver colored wall clock




It is that time of year when seniors feel that the college process is getting real!

In just two short months, the early application deadline of November 1st will be here, so now is the time to focus on what you have control over and to let go of what you do not.



Factors outside of your control (recognize these, but then let them go):

-competitiveness of the applicant pool

-a college’s preference for in-state vs. out-of-state applicants

-# and competitiveness of students applying to your major

-needs of the university

-how admissions staff measure the desirability of applicants

-the essay questions you are asked to answer

-competitiveness of your high school

-biological and background factors (race, income, etc.)

-the mood and perspective of your reviewer

Factors within your control (prioritize these, and give them your best effort):

-your course selection

-the quality of your essays and application

-what is on your resume (how you’ve chosen to spend your free time)

-who writes your recommendation letters

-your desired major

-where you apply

-how you engage with colleges

-seeking out resources in your school and community

I could write about all of these in-depth, but today I will focus on quick tips for the things you do have control over. Continue reading

College Fairs

travelBefore college representatives hunker down to read thousands of applications and essays in November, they will be attending college fairs this month in an attempt to get your attention (freshman-juniors) and answer your questions (seniors). A college fair is a great educational opportunity for students and parents as well as an opportunity for students to demonstrate their interest in a college (as attendance and communication with individual colleges are often tracked). For students near Portland, Oregon, the college fair will be held on Sunday, October 27th from 1-5 pm and Monday, October 28th from 9 am-noon at the Oregon Convention Center. You can get more information (including a list of colleges attending) and register here:

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 additional 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 available to go with you, have them wait in a long line for you while you take the opportunity to speak with a college that has a shorter line; then join your parent back in the first line.

If a parent can’t attend, have a friend go with you and take notes for you while you are talking to colleges 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 (Go here to register and receive a barcode.)

Potential questions to get you started:

  • What can you tell me about your _______________ department/program? Is this a direct entry program?
  • What are you looking for with ________________ applicants? (some majors prefer certain classes; i.e. physics and pre-calculus or calculus for engineering)
  • Can students apply undecided? When do students have to declare a major?
  • What are some distinctive, special or unique programs to your college?
  • What type of student does well at your school? What kind of student finds it a poor fit?
  • What programs do you offer to help freshmen adjust to college?
  • What programs do you have that serve first-generation students or students of color?
  • 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?
  • What traditions does your school have?
  • Does your school offer merit scholarships? If so, what type of students receives these and what % of students receive merit scholarships? Is there an early scholarship deadline?
  • Does your school meet full demonstrated need? If not, what percent of need do you typically meet? 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 specific programs that match.

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. Continue reading

Important Upcoming Events

pexels-photo-273025.jpegAttention College-Bound High School Students, put these dates on your calendar*:

The PNACAC (Pacific NW Association for College Admission Counseling) College Fair is Sunday, April 22nd from 12pm-3pm at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center. For a list of attendees, check here. It is highly recommended that you pre-register here:

Juniors should review the attendee list to see which colleges on their list are attending.  If your prospective colleges are coming, you should make every effort to attend.

Freshman & Sophomores: check out the list and consider attending as a chance to explore what different colleges have to offer, as well as what courses or activities they might recommend in preparation for your area of interest.

For more information on how to navigate a college fair and questions to ask, read my blog for tips:

SCAD: If you are interested in art, design, film, or architecture, consider attending a presentation in Portland by SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design).  For more information and to register, go here:

Exploring Educational Excellence: Join Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Rice for an information session for prospective students and their families on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at 07:00 PM at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 NE Airport Way. Register here:

Exploring College Options: Check back later this month for information on Exploring College Options: A joint presentation from Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University.

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 early this summer 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 one of their summer fairs: They will be at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on Wednesday, August 1st. Find out more here:

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 28th and 29th.  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:

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 October 1st (6:30-8:30pm) at the Portland Art Museum. For more information or to find this event in other cities, go here:

National Portfolio Day: For students preparing a portfolio for their applications into art, design, film or architecture programs, mark your calendars for early January 2019. 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:


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

2020 College Fairs

Spring is in the air, and so are college fairs! 

springstudent.jpgA college fair is an educational opportunity for students and parents and a marketing opportunity for colleges. In the fall and spring, many colleges send their admissions staff on the road to promote the school to high school students. The fall fair is larger, often with close to 300 schools in attendance. The spring fair is less overwhelming, but there will still be approximately 125 colleges in attendance eager to tell you why their school might be a good fit for you.

The University of Portland will be the host site for the Spring College Fair hosted by PNACAC (Pacific NW Association of College Admission Counseling).  I encourage 10th and 11th-grade students and their parents to attend the fair.

As the event is automated, students are asked to register before attending the event, to eliminate filling out prospect cards at each college table every time.  Access the registration form here: Completing the form creates a barcode which you should print and bring with you to the fair. Colleges will simply scan the barcodes to obtain your information (and track “demonstrated interest“).

Juniors, I highly recommend that you plan to attend in preparation for writing applications and essays this summer. Now is the time you want to focus on your college list. If you haven’t started exploring colleges, use the fair to start your research. If you already have some schools in mind, check the list below to see who attended last spring, and keep checking here for a list of this year’s attendees. If your schools are in attendance, it is important to make an effort to show up at the fair and meet the rep. Demonstrated interest is one of many factors taken into consideration during an application review. Continue reading