Oct 09 2015
By: Tom Wahl
For military spouses with high school kids, you know that it’s “fair” time. No, not the type with roller coasters and deep fried snickers. These are the fairs where military kids get dressed up, learn a few manners, and stand in numerous lines for 20 minutes for the chance to speak to someone – it’s college fair time!
If your military child is in high school, you’ve probably started getting emails from your child’s high school counselor about upcoming college fairs at the local Hilton/Marriott/Sheraton, or the city’s convention center, or the local college, or even the school. In talking to other military spouses, the benefit of attending these fairs isn’t always clear. I’ve wondered the same thing, especially after taking Joe and Anna to one last year and being stunned by the maze of tables, lines, and kids with their resumes (we turned around and left).
In hope of finding some insight into the benefits of college fairs and their importance to milkids in their college search, I turned to Kerri Beckert. Kerri is a military spouse and the owner and principal in Anchor Collegiate, a college admissions consulting firm (which she has successfully operated stateside and overseas as the Army moved her husband – that is quite an accomplishment). As a certified College Counselor, Kerri has been helping students and families navigate, understand, and succeed in college admissions and application process for many years. So, who better to ask about college fairs?
Q. Why attend college fairs? A complaint I’ve heard from parents is that the fairs are jam packed, and kids wait 20 minutes to talk to someone who doesn’t seem to know specifics about programs or majors – so what is the benefit to the student when they can stay home and do a tour of the college at their website?
A. Colleges want students who want to attend their schools. How do the schools know if you “like them, really really like them?” They know through demonstrated interest. Demonstrated interest means checking in with their table at a college fair if you can’t visit their campus. Kids should fill out the interest card, (and print CLEARLY). They should also bring a resume and drop it off (some colleges take them, some don’t!) And, PICK up information-brochures and programming literature. This can help give students a clearer picture of the school itself.
If the representative of the college is super busy, then just ask for a card, fill it out, and take some literature!
This is an opportunity for students to take a look at colleges which they do not have the time or funds to make a campus visit.
For those students just starting their college search, you can certainly start looking at many schools- programming, location, size of school. Sign up for information at schools with which you are unfamiliar and receive information in the mail!
Many times, if you are on a school’s mailing list, you will get the opportunity to apply without a fee!
Q. How should a student prepare for the fair and how can parents help?
A. Parents should make sure that the student knows how to give a good firm handshake, introduce themselves, and make sure that they are wearing casual, clean and conservative clothing. Adults should not accompany their children, nor should they speak to the representatives!
Having just gone through the college search process with Joe (from a Spring Break trip to visit colleges in the Northeast to his narrowing choices down to 11 schools to apply to), I can attest that the college admissions process is difficult and an enigma. So, Kerri offers great advice. I hadn’t realized the importance of these college fairs when Joe was looking, but I will be taking my high school junior daughter to these – especially if we can get application fees waived.
Thanks to Kerri for taking the time to answer these questions. If you’d like to read more about Kerri, and how this military spouse helps students and their families know and grasp the maze we call the college admissions and application process, visit her website at Anchor Collegiate.
And, if you’re a military spouse and considering a mobile career, I’m sure Kerri would have some good insights for you.
Are you looking for additional sources of financial aid for your college bound child? MOAA offers scholarships and grants for students seeking undergraduate degrees. Find out how to apply or check out additional avenues for funding an undergraduate education.