Top 3 Dos and Don’ts for Colleges at College Fairs

There are just about a million lists available to help students prepare for a college fair, but what about the colleges themselves? Who’s making sure admissions officers, counselors and recruiters know what to do or not do when preparing for and attending your next big college fair? The short answer? We are. Our job here at Tallo isn’t just to help incredibly talented students and adults create an online portfolio and attract colleges and companies. We’re also responsible for helping our college and business partners connect with talented students and professionals, and we can’t do that if we’re not providing you with the tools and resources you need. So without further ado, check out our top list of dos and don’ts for colleges at college fairs. 

The Top 3 Must-Dos for Colleges:

  • Know exactly how to get the most out of your college fair.
    Across the board, our college partners tell us one thing: they recruit the most students from college fairs. It’s not online interest, or random Google ads, or anything like that. It’s the handshake—whether virtual or in-person—you get to have with each student individually at a college fair that gets that student on your college’s scholastic roster. With that in mind, you’ve got to be prepared. Make a plan, attend fairs with the highest turnout, and get help from experts. These three things may seem like they’re obvious, but we know in the rush of admissions season, lots of things can get lost along the way.

    Check out our guide “How Do I Get the Most From My College Fair” today for more info.
  • Read the rules.

If you’re not new to the college fair game, then you know that many schools or locations have rules for how you set up a booth, how you interact with the students, what you can or cannot pass out, etc. Be sure you check with whomever is hosting the college fair to ensure you know what you are or aren’t allowed to do.Here’s a few do-not-do-this examples we’ve heard of:

  • No sharing promotional or college-branded items
  • No posting signs taller than 20 inches (honestly, is it even worth it to bring a sign then?)
  • No more than two people per booth
  • No leaving business cards in the bathrooms (we appreciate this tenacity, though)

Adhering to the rules feel like too much? Why not attend a virtual fair? The rules for virtual fairs are typically less strict—attend during certain times, be respectful, and connect with students. 

  • Connect with other colleges, too.

There’s no question that at a lot of college fairs, things get a little competitive between colleges and universities. After all, you’re all pulling from the same potential student pool to fill your admissions requirements. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, we advise colleges to connect with one another, too. Think about it: you all may have different programs you’re recruiting students into, and if these colleges know about your program, they can send students that don’t qualify for theirs over to your table—and you can do the same for them. This win-win relationship ensures you’re not spending your time trying to draw prospects from other tables to your booth, and instead, you know the other colleges at the fair have your back, and you have theirs.

You can also avoid competition (and networking) altogether by attending a virtual college fair. There, you can message students directly, narrow down your search, and push prospects into your admissions funnel faster. Virtual fairs allow you to focus on your goals and leave the chatter aside. 

We’ve covered the dos, so it’s time to talk about the don’ts. These three don’ts are compiled based on our own research and experience at fairs across the country, where we’ve seen colleges, universities and technical schools make the same mistakes that cost them a possible admission.

The Top 3 Definitely Don’ts For Colleges: 

  • Don’t rush. 

We get it—you have a limited amount of time to spend with each student, and you need to be able to get names in your book to follow up when you get back to your desk. Here’s the thing though: most students, whether young or older, are nervous too. Certainly, they aren’t worried about your goals, but rather, they’re worried about making the right impression, asking the right questions, and getting interest from potential schools. While you’re rushing because you’re trying to meet as many people as possible, they’re getting the impression that you’re just not that into them.

No one wins when that happens because 9 times out of 10, if students feel like you’re not interested, they won’t make the first move. Moreover, even if you do, they’ll be less likely to engage. 

If this pandemic has taught us anything (it’s actually taught us a lot, and we’re still learning), it’s that students are realizing the importance of being able to stay at home. This doesn’t just mean for health and safety, students also stay home because they don’t see the need to spend money on hotel rooms, eating out, and travel in order to get to a fancy college fair when they can just meet colleges online. It’s safer, but it’s also more cost-effective for teenagers who are relying on their exhausted parents to foot the bill.

Trust us, the parents will appreciate you too. Speaking of which…

  • Don’t forget to woo the parents.

While it may be the student who will be attending your school, it’s the parent who will likely be helping to pay for a portion of the education, help the student pack, and in many cases, even drive them to your college or university. Recognizing the family unit that supports the student you’re trying to recruit is just as important as recognizing the student themselves.

After all, who do you think is going to push that teenager toward a certain school? Who’s going to remind them of how much time the admissions officer of a certain college spent with them? Who’s going to reassure the student that there are so many fun activities to attend on campus? The parents, hands down. Getting them on your side is going to be over half the battle won, so don’t underestimate reaching out to them.

At Tallo, we know our success is rooted in the success of colleges, universities, and tech schools. We also know it’s about connecting our 1.6 million Tallo members with the right institutions so that they can achieve their dreams, and you can reach their goals.

Does your office of admissions need help getting students? We’re here, and we’re ready to help.

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