Share This


Even if you feel clueless about what university you might want to call home for the next four years, your High School College Fair can be your launching pad: time well spent if you do some pre-planning research.


Here are five ways your High School College Fair can help you begin to build a solid college list!


First: Answer these core questions about your Academic, Financial, and Social Fit to help you identify the characteristics most important to you in a university,


  1. COLLEGE SIZE? (Visiting different size campuses will help with this decision.)


Large (over 10,000)        Medium (3,000-10,000)  Small (under 3,000)


  1. CAMPUS SETTING? (Again, campus visits will help with this decision. Take note of urban schools with a well-defined campus like Northeastern University in MA, NYU in Manhattan,  or Georgetown University in DC.)


Urban                    Suburban   Rural No Preference


  1. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION? (Do mom and dad want you nearby?)


Northeast        Southeast    Midwest West No Preference


  1. COLLEGE MAJOR: Do you know what you might want to major in? What schools offer top programs in this major? (Not sure what you want to do with your life? Take a few online career quizzes to get a better feel for what might be fit. The Holland Code Quiz might be a good start. Also: doing a general list building search using The College Board’s BIG FUTURE and College Data411 are both great sites for general college list building.



  1.  AFFORDABILITY: (Understanding what you can and can’t afford is one of the most crucial college list building decisions you can make. Don’t go broke paying for college. Ask yourself: What colleges are need-blind or offer generous merit aid? What universities have high four-year (versus six year) graduation rates? What schools have high freshman retention rates? All of these factors should be a consideration in your list building process. Here are some resources to help with this.


  1. SPECIAL INTERESTS: (Are you an athlete looking at D2 or D3 schools? A theater or art major? Are you big on study abroad, Greek life, or decent cafeteria food? All of these considerations need to be taken into account when choosing a college. And, there are resources to research for all of them. The Princeton Review is a good start:


SECOND: Once you’ve answered these core questions and done some research, print the list of colleges that will be attending the fair and determine which schools fit some of the criteria you are considering.  (Also: take into account your GPA range and test scores compared to the school’s academic profile to see how you measure up.)


THIRD: Highlight the schools that look most favorable and find them on the locator college fair map so that you can find them easily and quickly once you are at the fair. MOST IMPORTANTLY, when you meet with your College Connecticut Admissions’ Rep for each school, make sure you ask SMART questions — not ones that can be easily answered on the school’s website.


Here is a specific example: IF you know that Lehigh University accepts approximately 60% of its early decision applicants (including legacy) early decision, then you can ask the admissions officer: What is the percentage of regular applicants accepted regular decision? As well as: What is the average academic profile for regular decision applicants (GPA, Test Prep Scores, etc.) versus Early Decision applicants? The Bottom Line (What you really want to know): Does the process become more selective during the regular decision process? Because this can affect how you will apply.


Aside from specific quantitative questions, there are many qualitative questions you might want to ask. Here are examples of some really good questions to ask:


What are the most competitive majors?

What makes your college unique?

How would you describe the students at your college?

Who are the most beloved professors? What are the most popular classes? Why?

What are the most fun clubs and activities on campus? Why?

And, most importantly, how is the Cafe food, REALLY?


FOURTH:  Before you leave your house, make sure to bring your college list, a pen, paper, and a bag to hold college brochures. Also: consider printing out some address labels with your name, address, email, highschool, potential major, and graduation year to give out to admissions representatives there.


And, don’t forget, after speaking with the admissions rep — take a minute to jot down any information he or she says that you think might be substantial — before moving on to the next college booth. Things will move quickly and you may not remember important information later!


FIFTH: AFTER THE FAIR, DO A POST-MORTEM: Ask yourself: Which colleges stood out and why? Then, plan to do more research on those colleges: explore websites, contact your admissions’ officer, and plan a campus visit.  


All these steps will help you find your best fit college without undue stress and perhaps allow you to actually enjoy the process.


Here are links to three free resources for academic, financial, and social fit that may assist you as you begin your college research and list building. I hope so!


Financial Fit Organizer:


Academic Fit Organizer:


Social Fit Organizer:


Stay Informed! Enjoy the Journey!


For the latest news, tips, and college admissions information available, go to and join my mailing list or contact me at with questions.


Leave a reply