by Elizabeth Reddy
Over the weekend of October 15-17, our chapter officers of Phi Theta Kappa at LaGuardia Community College, Alpha Theta Phi, attended a conference at the Selden, NY campus of Suffolk County Community College. There were several events for us to partake in such as general sessions involving keynote speakers, fellowship events like visiting the SCCC planetarium, and a college transfer fair with a scavenger hunt included.
The college transfer fair is not always an easy event to maneuver. For us students, we can be overwhelmed by the amount of colleges that come to provide information; at the conference, there were forty college information tables to visit. All the pamphlets and booklets they give you can be a handful, and the problem of whether or not you are asking the right questions to find the college appropriate for you and your desired major is a constant thought.
I've developed a list of tips that can help any student who is faced with the daunting and sometimes frustrating task of maneuvering a college transfer fair. These tips are meant to help you get the most out of the college fair, as well as finding the best matches for your major of choice. Hopefully, these will be helpful to you and will divide the task of going through each college table a whole lot easier!
1. Before you start looking at the colleges and talking to the school representatives, ask yourself a few simple questions that will make things simple for you and the representative.
a. What is your desired major?
b. Do you want to stay local or are you willing to go out of state?
c. Will you be receiving financial aid? If not, do you have a budget for the school you choose?
Also, try and keep in mind some other things that you are looking for in a school and that are important to you when choosing a college. Specifics are great when you’re having a difficult time deciding between two or three great schools. Ask the college reps anything about the schools that you’re curious about. Don’t be afraid—ask them while you have them in person, especially if you’re really interested in the school.
2. Once you have your questions, you will also most likely be given a list of schools that are in attendance at the college transfer fair. Look it over! Organize the schools into order of priority, by schools you already know a little about (or ones you’re thoroughly interested in applying to), schools that are a possibility for you, and schools that are local. Cross out schools that you know for a fact do not have the major that you are interested in and are field-specific schools. For example, if you are a fine arts major, you can cross out NYIT which is a technology, math and science specific school.
3. After you've organized your school into a list of who you want to visit first, be prepared to wait for some of them. If the first school you want to visit has a long line, move to the next one. Ask your questions, take information ONLY if you’re probably/definitely going to apply to the school. Signing up for the emails about school information is good to, but these schools WILL email you—some of them a lot, so be prepared for that too. Worst comes to worst, you can always unsubscribe from their emails
4. Just keep visiting each of the schools that you've prioritized, moving on to the next one if there’s a long line. Once you've gotten all the information and asked your questions to the colleges that weren't so crowded, it’s time to play the waiting game. Chances are, the lines at the other tables haven’t gotten that much shorter. Have your questions ready since these schools are popular and the representatives want to answer as many questions as they can, that way when you get to the front of the line, or the front of the table, you will be able to get your questions out articulately and concisely. When visiting these more popular schools, if they don’t give you one already, make sure that you ask the college representatives for a card. They will most likely be happy to give you one so that you can contact them further to ask them more questions and get more information.
5. After you've visited all the colleges you wanted to, look over your list. Make sure you have information from all of the schools you want to apply to. All the information that you've collected is study material for you. This will help you narrow down your list of applications.
6. Once you’re all finished, pat yourself on the back. You've just completed your first college transfer fair! It wasn't that bad, was it?
I hope these tips were helpful. Choosing colleges can be extremely overwhelming and daunting, but for those that come to these college transfer fairs with a good idea of what they’re looking for, the difficulty of the task is cut in half.