College Exploration

College FairsShow More

College fairs give you a chance to get information from a large number of colleges and to meet college admissions representatives. Some fairs feature a wide variety of colleges such as regional and national fairs, while others focus on certain types of colleges such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), military colleges or colleges with strong athletics programs.

To make the most of a college fair, prepare before you go. Think about what’s important to you. Do you want a big college or a small college? Do you care about the makeup of the student body? Do you already have a college major in mind?

If you are a freshman or sophomore, you may just want to wander a bit and see all the possibilities. If you are a junior, focus on colleges where you might apply. If you are a senior, use the college fair to make connections at schools where you are applying.

Practical Tips

  • Take a pen and notebook to jot down notes right after you talk with college representatives while your memory is fresh.
  • Bring a bag for collecting brochures.
  • Print address labels with your name, address, phone number, email address, and year of graduation. This will save you time and let you focus on talking with the college representative.
  • When you arrive, look at the floor plan and decide which tables you want to visit first.
  • Come prepared with your list of questions.
  • Check to see if there are informational sessions on topics such as financial aid.
  • Pick up business cards of representatives of colleges you like. Keep these cards in case you have questions later

Below is a video slide show from a recent college fair, we think it provides a nice visual guide to what happens at a typical college fair.

College ToursShow More

College fairs, catalogs, virtual tours, and websites are excellent resources for learning about college culture and requirements. A college visit will augment your knowledge base and provide an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in campus culture. Visiting will help you determine if the school or the type of school is the right fit.

Here are some campus visit options:

  • Many high schools offer college campus tour field trips throughout the year. Students and parents should consult the Guidance Counseling Office to learn what your school offers.
  • The district offers several campus visit options during spring break which are open to all high school students.
  • Many colleges bring prospective students to campus and you should always inquire about those options when speaking to college Admissions Representatives or visiting Admission Office web sites.
    College’s with “Fly-In” Programs (MS Excel)
  • Numerous community organizations and faith communities offer college tours.
  • A college visit is only a CTA trip away. Our campus visit tips [link to sheet] provide suggestions for colleges you can visit that are very close by. Visiting a college campus is a great way to spend a non attendance days or add an activity to your next family trip.
Planning Your College VisitShow More

College catalogs, virtual tours, and websites are great resources for learning about a college, but seeing a college for yourself can be the best way to determine if a school is right for you. Included here are a few steps for planning a successful campus visit on your own.

  • Visit the admissions page on the college‚Äôs website. Most, if not all, colleges these days have a website that is only a quick online search away.
  • Learn about visiting the campus. Schools may offer a variety of ways to interact with and learn about the college, including campus tours, information sessions, faculty panels, sitting in on classes, admissions presentations, etc. Find out what interests and works best for you and your time on-campus.
  • Schedule a visit by registering online, calling the admissions office, or emailing a request. Be sure to include information about your visit such as the time you will likely arrive and the date of your visit. If you would like to take a tour, talk to an admissions counselor, stay overnight in a residence hall or visit a class, make the proper arrangements through the admissions office.
  • Arrive 15 minutes beforehand. Especially if you are scheduled for a tour or an appointment. College campuses may take some time to navigate. It is always best to shoot for an earlier arrival just to be cautious. Aiming to arrive around 15 minutes should give you enough time to find where you need to be.
  • Have questions prepared. Be sure to research the school before arriving on campus and find out what is important for you to learn more about. Bringing along a list of questions concerning academics, housing, clubs and activities, professors, classes, sports, campus jobs, or anything else that interests you is a great way to cover everything you set out to ask about.
  • Try to talk to as many students as possible. Students may provide valuable insight into life at a college not seen through college-generated brochures or websites.

Also, remember to call ahead because tours, interviews, and overnight stays may fill up early.

Here are some colleges you can start learning about today!

Within Chicago (accessible by CTA):

Loyola University of Chicago, Kendall College, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, The John Marshall Law School, U of I at Chicago, University of Chicago, St. Xavier University, Robert Morris University-Illinois, Northeastern Illinois University, National-Louis University, Roosevelt University, Rush University, School of the Art Inst. Chicago, Chicago State University, Richard J. Daley College, Wilbur Wright College, East-West University, Ellis University, Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Malcolm X College, Kennedy-King College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College, Olive-Harvey College, Northwestern University

Within Illinois (within three hour drive):

Aurora University, Fox College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Olivet Nazarene University, Morton College, Northern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Knox College, Carl Sandburg College, Lake Forest College, University of St. Francis, Illinois State University, Concordia University, Triton College, Augustana College, Lewis University, U of I at Urbana/Champaign, Wheaton College

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