The Value of College Fairs
I just love college fairs! Recently (April 20th) I attended a US college fair in Mumbai with admissions representatives from Case Western University, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, Emory and New York University. What I love about these fairs is that the reps are so friendly, approachable and eager to help. They have been sent to India by the colleges they represent, specifically to share information about their programs, answer your questions and cultivate relationships with schools and individual students who can help them attract the student body they seek. Their only agenda here is to be helpful!
This is a breath of fresh air for many students and parents feel overwhelmed by mountains of information and procedures as they prepare for the application process. The fairs help to put a face to the place and can remind families why they are jumping through the arduous hoops required for application.
At today’s fair each representative spoke individually for about 10 minutes about their college and then they opened the forum to answer questions from attendees. In this setting, the differences between their colleges emerged. One distinction that stood out was the entry point for students – for example at UVA and Emory, students do not enter with a declared major or field of study. Whereas at NYU, students must choose a particular college when they apply – e.g. you enter the college of engineering or business as a first year student. The chance to ask a panel of five representatives the same questions and ponder their different answers really brought home the importance of understanding the nuances of each program.
Another important difference between the colleges is their ‘area’ or ‘distribution’ requirements – the required classes for all students regardless of major. For example, at Emory University all students spend the first two years fulfilling a common liberal arts requirements. Now, if you are considering applying to Emory because of its highly ranked undergraduate business program, but you have little interest in history or humanities and are maybe even worried that your performance in those courses could bring down your overall GPA, you need to weigh the pros of Emory’s business school against what you feel are the cons of its liberal arts requirements. Similarly engineering students may want to look for colleges that have fewer distribution requirements in humanities and social sciences that may distract from science and technical courses. At the fair I learned that UVA and Case Western have fewer distribution requirements for engineers.
Finally, an astute member of the audience asked about the number of international students each college admits. This question revealed some important, actionable information: Drew Crawford of Case Western Reserve University explained that while CWRU only admitted 6 students from India last year, they are eager to increase that number in the future. That is why Mr. Crawford is in India , to promote his college and find the right students, so if YOU are interested CWRU’s great courses, you have the chance put yourself on Mr. Crawford’s radar as he plows through application files in 2014. Attending college fairs is a great opportunity to make yourself stand out to the admissions representative, and all you have to do is show up, meet the representative, take his card and email him later with questions as you begin your application to establish a direct line of contact. It’s the easiest thing you’ll have to do in the application process and it can pay the most dividends.
You can learn about fairs through the newspaper, social networks and college tour organizations such as Linden or QS as well as checking individual college travel schedules on their admissions page websites. Before you go, check whether the fair is aimed at undergraduate or graduate study to avoid disappointment.
Note: There are 2 fairs coming up this weekend April 26th and 27th. Both for undergraduates.
April 27th QS World University Tour at the Vivanta by Taj – President. Information session at 2:30, fair opens 3:30
Over 25 colleges from around the world represented.
Register at: http://www.topuniversities.com/events/world-university-tour/mumbai
Duke, Northwestern, & Princeton Universities are pleased to announce couple of open information sessions for undergraduate prospective students in Mumbai this month. The Mumbai sessions are scheduled for Friday, April 26th from 4:00-5:30 PM at Dhirubhai Ambani International School and Saturday, April 27th from 10:00-11:30 AM at BD Somani International School.