Shared Mission: Common App Lends Support to National College Fairs

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Photo by Chuck Fazio
Photo by Chuck Fazio

Exploring college majors. Visiting with admission counselors. And, of course, seeing firsthand the wide variety of postsecondary options available.

A trip to a National College Fair (NCF) is a great way for teens to jumpstart the college search and selection process. And with more than 90 fairs offered each year throughout the nation, the program also serves as an invaluable outreach tool — encouraging all students to dream big.

For more than 40 years, that mission has driven the NCF program — which kicked off its spring season last month.

Aba Blankson, senior director for marketing and communications with The Common App, talked with Admitted about her organization’s role supporting the Greater Washington DC National College Fair.

The Oct. 23 event featured 220 colleges and universities, and drew roughly 3,000 students, parents, and educators. Two Common App staffers played an integral role on the organizing committee, and the nonprofit used their tools to help promote the fair.

Q: What did your organization do to help support this year’s DC fair?

A: We emailed students in DC, northern Virginia, and Maryland to let them know about the fair. At Common App, we live and work in the DC area — this is basically our backyard. We were hopeful that we’d be able to get more students to the fair by virtue of our reach. We also did some social media promotion. The focus was really on making sure students and parents knew about the fair. We have a megaphone, and this was one message we wanted to amplify.

Q: Why did The Common App want to be involved?

A: Seeing all the colleges and seeing all the college representatives — it can be overwhelming for students. But ultimately, that exposure helps. It may help plant a seed for some students, and because they attended a college fair, they now know that there are options out there. It may push them to do more research. Or they may see what their friends are doing. It can be a first step for kids who are unfamiliar with the college application process.

Q: Common App also used the DC fair as an opportunity to reach out to students, parents, and counselors. Tell us more about your efforts.

A: Currently we have 700 colleges in our membership, and they are very involved with college fairs. But the Greater DC College Fair was the first time Common App (as an organization) decided to have a table and representatives on hand. Students who may not have heard about The Common App could stop by and learn more. And students who had already created an account could stop by and ask specific questions. We also were able to point counselors to helpful resources, such as Common App Ready, which is a suite of tools and documents that they can use to educate their students about the college admission process.

Q: How does Common App’s mission align with the goals of NACAC’s National College Fairs?

A: Our mission is promoting access. And we certainly know that kids and families need good information about college. In addition to getting exposure to a variety of colleges, this is a place where a student can talk to a counselor one-on-one. They can find out about fly-in programs. They can learn about fee waivers. They can begin to see the possibilities and make connections that will help them throughout the process.

Visit the National College Fairs website, and learn more about exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities.

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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