Preparing for a College Fair

By Avery Howell and Sabrina Bhargava, 11th grade

Every year at Imagine, 10th and 11th grade students at Imagine are invited to attend the Texas IB Schools (TIBS) College Fair. Students from IB schools all across Texas make their way to Hurst, Texas, to the event where admissions representatives and alumni from universities all around the country provide information about their schools and programs. 

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Admission officers and representatives of colleges ranging from in-state colleges such as A&M to out-of-state colleges like Stanford are there to take questions and provide more information to those who are going to attend college. But what really goes on at College Fair and how can students prepare themselves to get the most of the experience? Read more to find out!

  1. Attend seminars. 

There are various seminars to attend throughout the day at the College Fair. Topics are broad and applicable to all IB students. This year, some of the topics were: The Value of IB to Colleges, Understanding the Admissions Process, Applying for Financial Aid, and How to Write Admissions Essays. Some of the speakers were admissions officers from Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins university.

Attending these seminars can provide students with important inside information about the college application process and how to make their own applications stand out. They’re each 30 minutes long, so you can squeeze in more than one if more than one topic catches your eye!

2. Make a list of colleges that interest you beforehand- and do your research!

In the main hall, every university will have a booth set up and an alum or admissions representative present. They’ll have brochures and pamphlets of information about their programs and campuses, and will be able to give students more information about their respective schools.

Every year, the TIBS program releases a list of every university that will be in attendance at the event beforehand. Skim through this list and pick out colleges that interest you and start doing a little bit of research. Make a list of questions to ask at booths of universities you’re interested in, and know a little bit of information about programs you like.

3. Ask questions. 

If there’s something you’d like to know about something specific, don’t be afraid. If readers are going to take away one thing from this list of tips, this is it. Those representatives of colleges are there to answer your questions, so ask! This is why it’s important to do a little bit of research beforehand; you’ll feel more comfortable and ask more meaningful questions after you already know basic information.

Avoid asking basic things such as, “where is your school located?” Google that! The College Fair is about finding out things that you can’t get online, so take advantage! If you can’t think of anything to ask, here are some starter questions.

Tell me about your _____ program.

What is this university’s policy regarding credit for IB courses?

Is there anything I should know about this school?

What’s the campus like? 

 

Quick Tip: During the 2015 and 2016 college fairs, a few schools were giving away plastic bags with their logos on them. Grab a bag as soon as you can so you can store all of the college brochures and handouts you get. Look for these booths!

4. Plan for the logistics of the day.

Know about the event and make sure to plan accordingly! One example of poor planning that could put a damper in the day is not packing a lunch. Food is available for purchase at the event, so either bring a sack lunch or bring some extra cash to buy a snack. And note, they are snacks. There were chips, cookies and sodas, and the most nutritious item on the menu was probably cheese nachos, so packing a lunch might be your best bet!

5. Ask about IB!

As IB Students, make sure to inquire about each school’s IB credit-transfer policies. Each school does it differently, and some schools don’t give any credit for IB. Other schools place students in classes based on where they belong, so Math Studies and Math SL students can get the same IB credit but wind up in different classes depending on the school.

Make sure that you visit every college that seems interesting. Keep your options open, and look for colleges that offer different programs, such as studying abroad or paid tuition in return for working at the college.

The 2017 College Fair will be similar to previous ones, so make sure to prepare accordingly!tibs2 If you have any more questions, contact a DP student and ask them about their experience at the 2016 College Fair! 

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