10 Questions You Need to Ask at a College Fair
College fairs are an important part of the application process. They can help you glean what each school’s strengths and weaknesses are as well as make connections with recruiters from each one.
We constantly receive a variety of questions at these fairs, such as:
1) Why should I attend CU Denver?
2) How much does it cost to attend CU Denver?
3) How do I apply for CU Denver? What do my scores need to look like for admission?
4) What types of scholarships do you offer?
5) What majors do you offer?
6) What is the average class size?
7) If I am undecided on a major, when do I need to decide on one?
8) What is housing like? Are freshmen required to live on campus? What amenities are included with housing? How many students live in on-campus housing?
9) Do you have sports teams? What sports do you offer?
10) What does the student life look like at CU Denver?
Although these are important questions to answer before making your final decision, they can easily be found online at www.ucdenver.edu. While at a college fair, take advantage of having an admissions counselor right there!
There are quite a few important questions to consider at a college fair; here are our top 10.
What does this school offer in terms of my intended major or interests?
First of all, find out if this school even offers the major(s) you’re interested in! Then, ask about the program and what makes it different. Is it big or small? Does the faculty produce a large amount of research or academic publications? How often does the program organize events for students such as readings, career fairs, or networking events?
What is this school’s ideal student?
While you’ll want to avoid questions where the recruiter simply tells you what they think you want to hear, this may be a good question to gain a feel for what type of students matriculate. You may learn that the school is heavily research-focused or that the majority of students fill their schedules with internships and extracurricular activities. This could also be a great lead in when you are similar to their perfect student and you can share what makes you so!
What are the academic strengths of this school?
Yes, it’s great to know that the major you’re interested in is one of the school’s strengths, but details matter. The recruiter may be able to tell you about recent awards and honors, program connections with the surrounding community, or additional opportunities the school offers that others don’t. A school that has a great reputation for the major you’re interested in could give you a leg up when it’s time for internships and first jobs.
What kinds of opportunities does this school offer for my intended major?
This fits well with learning the school’s strengths and will prompt the recruiter to tailor their answer to your interests. Perhaps one school has the top communications program in the area you’re interested in, but another has a specific program linking students to prestigious internships in the television industry, your industry of choice.
Do I relate to this school’s philosophy or mission statement?
There will be similarities in a lot of schools’ mission statements, probably along the lines of academic excellence, but pay attention to the differences. Does this school focus on service? Research contributions? Community connections? The school’s mission statement could give you a window into what will seem important when you arrive on campus.
Does this school offer extracurricular activities that I care about?
Academics will most likely be your top priority at school, but you’ll certainly use your free time for something other than academics. Tell the recruiter about what you do now in your free time and what you’re possibly interested in starting to become involved in. Pay attention to the surrounding area of the school as well – if you’re addicted to your Sunday hikes, a school set within the plains might be a hard transition.
Does this school have research opportunities and how soon can I get involved?
Planning is key when attending any university, so if you’re at all interested, you’ll want to ask about research. Schools that offer research to students at an earlier time means you’ll end up with more experience than other student you’re competing with for internships and jobs.
What is the social scene like?
This question is not intended for you to investigate where the biggest parties happen – many things take place on the weekends and a recruiter’s answer will give you an idea of how students tend to spend their time. Does this school regularly host events on campus? Are students involved in the arts? Is the library packed on Saturday and Sunday?
Do students stay in the area after school?
A university with a large portion of students staying nearby could mean great alumni connections and a general satisfaction with the school and the area. Follow this question by asking what kinds of jobs graduates take and where else they tend to move.
Does this school have a make or break quality of mine?
While there are many qualities of each university that are important to everyone applying, you’ll no doubt have specific requirements for the school you eventually matriculate to. If you love acting but the school doesn’t have a program or club and neither does the surrounding area, will you be truly happy there for four years? Make sure to write your make or breaks down before arriving at the fair so you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re looking for.
We wish you luck on your college fair experience and welcome you to our booths! For a schedule of our admissions events, visit our website.
How to Plan a College Tour Road Trip
One of the biggest influences in choosing a college is the campus tour. The tour allows you to not only see campus, but interact with current students and envision what it would be like to join that community. While planning a college tour road trip, try to follow these tips:
Start Planning Early
Yes, it’s possible to sign up for a college tour the night before, but tours tend to fill up fast, especially during times like spring break. Pick an area with at least a few schools you want to visit and sign up for about two tours a day. It’s possible and more efficient to tour two campuses in a day, but any more will have you feeling rushed and things might blur together. Remember, you’ll probably want to save time for a meal in the dining hall, a meeting with a coach, or a special tour of a specific department.
Write and Reflect as Soon as Possible
Because you’ll be visiting multiple schools, it’s likely you’ll forget the specifics. Ask yourself – no, force yourself! – to write down all of your thoughts on each school as soon as you can, maybe each night after dinner, or even in the car on your way to the next school. Don’t forget to take note of not only the facts like how big the school is and what resources they offer, but how you felt there.
Try to Look at Different Options
Even if you think you’d never consider a big public school or a highly selective one, it’s a good idea to get a real sense of different options. Chances are you’ll have the opportunity within the region you’re visiting to tour a school that’s fairly different than the others on your list. It’ll give you perspective and either solidify your wants or open your eyes to something you didn’t consider before.
Connect with a Student
Whether you are able to schedule a one-on-one lunch or department tour with a student, or simply approach someone around campus, a student different from your group tour guide will be able to give you other insights into the school and may even feel more comfortable telling you about things tour guides don’t typically mention.
Don’t Neglect the Surrounding Area
Don’t forget that starting college means not only a new campus, but probably a new city or even state. Take some time apart from campus visits to check out the surrounding area. Go to dinner on a recommendation from a tour guide instead of at the dining hall and make time to simply walk around. Try to get a feel for the area as a whole instead of just the campus.
“Unofficial” Visits are Okay, Too
There may be a college you wanted to see but couldn’t get onto a tour during your visit to the region, or one that got the short end of the stick and you didn’t have time for. Don’t be afraid to simply take a stroll on the campus. While you won’t get the regular vibe of an official tour, you’ll still get to see the campus, watch students in action, and maybe chat with someone. The more laid back approach is a great way to break up a long stint of touring.
Planning a college tour road trip during spring break or any other opportunity is exciting, but don’t get overwhelmed by having a plan and knowing what you want to get out of the experience. Sign up for a University of Colorado Denver tour today.
A Timeline for Preparing & Applying to Universities
Staring the application process in the face is intimidating and overwhelming. Universities try to make it easier with simple instructions, but let’s face it, when you have ten schools you’re applying to, nothing is simple. Here is a helpful timeline to keep yourself calm and collected during this busy time.
It can never be too early to start and get yourself organized for the upcoming application season. Now is the time to be researching schools you’re interested in whether it’s gathering online information, interviewing current students and alumni, or visiting yourself. Form an organizational system to help decide first where to apply and next, how to apply. You may find it helpful to keep a journal about your impressions or a ranked pro and con list. Keep in mind that some colleges require an application fee and others ask you to fill out supplemental information.
After you’ve narrowed down your list, you’ll want to make a new one. This one will contain all of the requirements for the schools’ applications as well as deadlines and helpful links and email addresses. A simple way to set up a list you can expand and contract as needed is to use an excel spreadsheet. This way you’ll also be able to add clickable links to things like essay prompts and where to pay your deposit.
Now is the time you’ll be using to generate all of your application materials. Most schools will ask for teacher recommendations. Think about teachers and possibly school administrators, coaches, and club advisors who can best write about your strengths as a student and person. Try to ask them as soon as possible to ensure they’ll have adequate time to write a personalized recommendation and make it as easy as possible by providing them with everything they’ll need. This will definitely include a mailable address or online link for the letter depending on each school, but teachers also may like a resume with your extracurriculars and GPA so that they can translate their impressions of you to your qualities as a whole.
Colleges will also need your academic transcript and test scores as part of your application. Get in touch with your school advisor to make sure your transcripts are being sent to the right places. Remember that the college you eventually commit to may ask for a second transcript with your last semester grades, so getting to know your advisor now will help in the spring as well.
As for test scores, double check each college’s requirements. Some will take either the ACT or SAT, but others prefer one over the other and even ask for subject tests. You may have taken your standardized test of choice last school year, but if you haven’t or want to try for a better score, there’s still time to sign up in the fall. Make sure to investigate the latest you can take the test for it to be reported to your colleges.
After you’ve made sure you’ll have recommendations, transcripts, and scores to send, you’ll be turning to the more time-intensive part of the application process: the essay(s). Whether you have to write one general essay or many supplemental essays, you’ll want to set up a timeline to keep yourself on track. Work with colleges��� deadlines to decide which essays have priority and allow yourself plenty of time for trusted peers and adults to read your work and give you feedback to revise. An easy way to make sure these few months will result in polished essays is to divide the essays by the amount of time you have, say finishing one essay every two weeks or so. You might also find it helpful to look at all of your required essays together and group those that are similar enough to simply revise or switch around to fit different prompts. This will leave you more time for the editing process and ensure you’ll be less stressed toward the deadlines.
Many deadlines are sometime around January 1, so by the beginning of December you’ll want to make sure you’re checking the majority of your items off your spreadsheet. If you’re applying early decision or early action, you’ll want to have everything checked off by now! December is a good time to check in and finish up anything you haven’t gotten around to yet. Make sure that your recommenders have turned in your letters and the colleges have received your transcripts and test scores. At this point you’ll be grateful you have all of the requirements written out and easily visible in one place!
Whether you’re apply to just a few colleges or upwards of ten, keeping an organized spreadsheet and acting early will make all the difference. College application pages will be most helpful in providing the information you need and will allow you to feel in control of one of the most exciting times in your life!
Top 10 To-Do’s Before Leaving for College
Packing up and preparing for your first year at college can be exciting, overwhelming and scary all at the same time. As you’ve probably heard before, preparation is key! In order to make the transition easier, here are some things you can do to ready yourself.
- Set up a student bank account – Now is a great time to set up a bank account to manage your money. Most banks offer online banking so that you can check your balance from a computer or your phone and some even have special deals for students like no maintenance fees. You might want to consider banks with ATMs close to campus so that you won’t pay fees when you need to withdraw cash.
- Double check your schedule – Make sure you are on track whether you’ve chosen a major or are fulfilling core requirements. You should also consider if the classes you’re signed up for will allow you a positive school/life balance. Knowing your schedule well before you start classes will allow you to develop realistic expectations.
- Reach out to your advisor – Whether you’re thinking about switching a class or want to know what you can do to prepare for your first semester of school, taking the time to contact your advisor will give you a head start and ensure that you are introduced to someone who can help when school starts and other questions arise.
- Read – College classes will demand much more of your time outside of the classroom than high school probably did. You don’t have to pick up A Tale of Two Cities or read your Chemistry textbook once through, but constantly reading anything you can will help you get used to how much reading you’ll soon be doing in school.
- Network and stay social – Find your college’s page on Facebook, search for online forums, or connect with friends of friends who are also attending your school in the fall. It may be tempting to hang out as much as you can with your high school friends before everyone goes their separate ways, but being connected to people at your new school will make the transition a little easier.
- Research clubs and organizations – While you’re spending your first few weeks getting acclimated to your classes, you might feel too overwhelmed trying to find information on clubs and organizations and want to save it for later; but by that time, it’ll feel like you’re too late. Search on your school’s website or contact your advisor before school starts to learn basic information about the clubs that interest you. That way, you’ll have a fun extracurricular to meet new people and destress from class.
- Volunteer – Develop leadership skills and have a great conversation starter in the fall by volunteering over the summer. Volunteer experiences can reveal new interests, boost your confidence, and get you in the habit of meeting new people and working on a team, something you’ll be doing a lot of when the semester starts.
- Consider a job for the upcoming semester – Have you thought about what money you’ll use for late night pizza runs or last minute presentation outfits? Find out how to apply for jobs on campus or off before the semester starts so that you’ll have a jump on all the other students inevitably looking for extra income. The best jobs fill up quick, so contact your advisor or search the school’s website for contact information.
- Download syllabi and any other early assignments – Some professors will send out introductory emails with syllabi and other documents; don’t ignore these until school starts! Take a moment to write down important syllabus dates and get a head start on your reading. You’ll be happy to be clued in and avoid feeling overwhelmed later.
- Figure out how you’ll stay on top of things – Think about how you’re staying organized now and reevaluate. A daily planner may have worked perfectly in your previous experience to keep you on track. In that case, consider buying a fresh one to get you excited about the new semester. Maybe you haven’t been very organized in the past; research different organization techniques and set yourself up to use them before school starts.
Of course, have lots of fun this summer, but make sure that you can continue to have fun in the fall by following through on our 10 tips to stay ahead of the curve.