How to Get the Most out of a Grad School Fair

April 23, 2013

As we prepare for the third annual Graduate School Fair at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, here’s some great advice for taking full advantage of grad fairs.

Make the most of your graduate fair experience by coming prepared, bringing a curious mind, and looking sharp. The college staff want to meet you and are eager to share information to help you find the right fit into one of their programs. Certainly everyone wants to make a great first impression, but this event is only a beginning. You are simply starting your exploration through a brief conversation. Because college staff are searching for great candidates, you really are the one in the driver’s seat.

You will benefit the most by previewing the list of colleges ahead of time to determine which ones have a program of interest. Concentrate your time on those tables. You will be able to visit more tables by making sure you use the map of the attendees. Once you’re ready to make the rounds, greet the recruiters with enthusiasm and eye contact. Bring a pen to fill out their forms. Identify a few possible questions to ask about your main concerns.

Your program checklist and questions could include program accreditation, faculty research areas, courses, location, admissions criteria, GPA, and many other factors. Where the school is located can affect your job options, housing, internships, and overall costs.

You can take short courses, earn a professional certificate, study and work, or become a full-time student with full financial support at either the doctoral or master’s level. The right place is the one that that fits you and your needs, but the program may expect you to have work experience first. Or maybe you’re considering an online program. Remember that while studying online can be practical, it requires self-discipline and may not equally grow your relationships. Consider all the pros and cons of the different options, and ask about the benefits and the downsides.

Good sources for gathering college information for your research before and after the fair are the College Navigator,, and Big Future by the College Board.

Be sure to register for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders — May 31–June 1 at the University of Maryland, College Park — by May 15 so you can explore more than 50 programs at the NCCWSL Graduate School Fair. You’ll have access to representatives who are traveling from across the country to meet you!

See you at NCCWSL!

Written by Brenda Grove, director of college outreach at Villanova University and a third-time NCCWSL Graduate School Fair participant!

AAUWguest By:   |   April 23, 2013

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