Help Your Students Prepare for National College Fairs

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Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on Admitted in April 2015. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

All hail the humble highlighter.

Neon markers are a vital part of Dana Lambert’s efforts to help students make the most of their National College Fair experience.

“I make them come in with a plan,” said Lambert, a counselor at West Milford Township High School in New Jersey. “Once the list of fair exhibitors comes out, we have them sit down and highlight the schools and the tables that they want to stop at.”

The strategy gives students “a sense of ownership” in the college research process, said Lambert, who serves on the NACAC committee overseeing the New Jersey National College Fair.

She offers these helpful hints for counselors preparing their students for National College Fairs:

Schedule student meetings: At Lambert’s school, each junior — highlighter in hand — talks with a counselor prior to the fair. “It helps get them in the right mindset, and we use it as a way to make sure they are prepared to make the most out of the fair,” Lambert said.

Promote workshops, counseling center: National College Fairs include workshop on various topics, including financial aid and student athlete eligibility. Each fair also includes a counseling center, oftentimes an invaluable resource for students with specialized majors, such as genetics or French horn performance. “There are resources available and there are people available who can help answer very individualized questions about the college search process,” Lambert said.

Involve parents: At West Milford, a parent group offers free busing to the fair’s evening session for parents and students. “Picking out and applying to colleges is really a family process,” Lambert said. “Attending a National College Fair is a very easy way for families to see a whole bunch of schools in a very small environment.”

For more information about NACAC’s National College Fair program, visit nacacfairs.org and follow @nacacfairs on Twitter.

 Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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