Students and parents who attend the Big Apple College Fair at the Javits Convention Center on Sunday, Oct. 22, are urged to shop around and find the college that best suits their needs.
Here are some tips on how to find the school that will serve you best:
Curriculum: Look for colleges that offer the right courses and have the right facilities for the kinds of studies you’re interested in. If you want science, make sure they have up-to-date labs, computers and other facilities. If you haven’t decided yet, look for a college with a broad-based liberal arts program.
Academic Standards: Find out admissions requirements, average class standing, grade point average, and/or admission test scores for accepted students.
Cost: Total college cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, room and board, as well as other associated costs, such as transportation, and books. Every college is required to provide a net price calculator to help students estimate how much that college will actually cost. You can find the calculator on the college’s web site.
Location: Close to home or far away? Do you want a big city with all its attractions, easy access to the outdoors, or the serenity of a small town.
Size: Look beyond the size of the student body. Find out the size of the faculty, the student to faculty ratio and how accessible the faculty members are. If you think you might be overwhelmed at a large university, look for a school with a smaller number of students. Remember, even at a larger school, after your first couple of years, classroom size gets smaller and you get to know the students in your major area of study.
Sports and Activities: A rich social life is important. Learn about clubs and other organizations, sports, arts and other activities. Aim for a good balance between academics and extracurricular activities. If you are planning to participate in varsity sports, get detailed information about being a student athlete at NCAA.org.
Retention and Graduation Rates: The percentages of students returning after freshman year and graduating in four years are good indicators of the strength of a college’s student support system and the overall satisfaction of its students.
Financial Aid: Financial aid is available at every college, but some have more than others, private, independent colleges may charge more for tuition and other expenses, but they also tend to offer more financial aid. Check the college financial aid office.
Visit the Campus: Visit different kinds of colleges to learn what you like. Many colleges offer open houses, campus tours and campus visits on weekends. You can take virtual tours on many college websites.
Talk to Students and Alumni: Nobody knows as much about a college as the students who are currently enrolled and alumni who have graduated. The students can tell you about campus life and academics. Alumni will tell you whether the institution fulfilled its educational expectations and how it helped them in their careers.
Tips for Making the Most of Your College Fair Visit
It’s one thing to attend a college fair, but to make the most out of your visit, here are a few common sense preparations you can make:
Organize before you go: Review the list of participating colleges. Make a list of those in which you are particularly interested. Make a second list of any additional ones to check out if you have time.
Prepare your questions ahead of time: Review the colleges’ websites and prepare questions you would like to ask. Pick questions where the answers are not easily found on the colleges’ web site.
Print address labels to bring with you: Save time filling out cards by using labels with your name, address, email address, high school name, and your college start date.
Pick Up a Program: Most college fairs have a program listing the colleges that are in attendance. In most cases they are in alphabetical order. Take time to study the program so that you don’t waste time backtracking.
Arrive Early: Getting there early allows you more time to talk with the college representatives while it is less crowded.
Review: After the fair, review each college’s materials. If you have a question about something that you read, write it down so you can look for the answer in the college brochure or web site. If you still have questions, send an email to the admissions representative.
Organize: Once you review everything, create a file for each college you are interested in so that you can add any additional information you receive from them. You may find that some of the colleges you were considering aren’t a good fit for you. Take those brochures to your college advisors office for other students to review.