I previously prepared you for a college fair. So, what was the reality of my own recent experience? Planning for an effective outing, I went with the objective of asking a variety of questions for which one may rarely find answers via brochures and websites. I was armed with these questions, a small notebook, a couple pens, enthusiasm and an objective of enhancing our selection data. The following is what I experienced:
- The parking lot traffic was horrendous.
- The conversational noise inside the gym and cafeteria, in which it was being held, was so loud that you had to be almost face to face within 18” to hear each other.
- The numbers of participant students and family members required people to sometimes stand 2 – 3 persons deep in front of the colleges' display tables, materials and representatives. This meant that most persons were not actually hearing the representatives clearly unless getting closer.
- The schools were represented by a variety of persons including current students, local alumni, school marketing personnel and admissions officers.
- The preparedness of the college representatives regarding specific school programs and their ability to answer questions was highly limited and variable.
- Most representatives were prepared to deliver generic sales messages, brochures and trinkets. They also had mailing opt-in lists.
- I saw a lot of excited students.
- I observed numerous parents, but only a handful with smiles. The latter appeared to be pleased to connect their students with real persons representing the schools, seeming to validate their parental recommendations.
- I met a handful of representatives from schools that were way off my radar. They are still not under consideration, but their representatives were very pleasant.
The experience was more akin to attending a pep rally. There were lots of excited people and it was possibly quite motivating to some students, magnifying the idea that going to college may be an interesting proposition for the next phase in their lives. But, it was not a place to engage in much meaningful conversation or gain unique insights into specific institutions and their programs.
There were even a couple of snack stands. Go team! Enjoy your fair.