When it comes time for high school students to start thinking about college, all the options available can be rather overwhelming. It can also be difficult to get the correct information about colleges when there may be prevailing external influences, like your family, peers and teachers. One way to get an overview of which colleges exist is by attending a college fair.

A college fair is when representatives from various schools come to your town or city and set up information booths to provide high school students with some guidance and direction. College fairs are great places to learn about what colleges you could potentially apply to and what you need in order to apply to those colleges. But, to get the most out of your college fair experience, you'll need to know which questions to ask, so bring along your college fair checklist.

What Are the Admissions Requirements?

When you arrive at a college booth, you should immediately ask what the admissions requirements are. This is a good way to tell whether or not a school is even an option for you. You can ask about the average GPA requirements, SAT/ACT scores and other qualifications they look for in their applicants. Once you have this information, you can decide if you'd like to continue learning more about the school by asking additional questions.

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What Is the Applicant to Admissions Ratio?

If you see that you fit the requirements overall, then you might want to ask what the applicant to admissions ratio is for that school. In other words, how many students get accepted to the school versus how many students apply. You can get an understanding of how competitive this school is from this information. Remember: Though a school can be competitive to get accepted, this should not deter from applying. But, if it is quite competitive, then you'll know whether or not the school will be a safety, target or reach school.

What Majors and Minors Are Available?

While many students may not declare their major until their second semester of freshman year, you'll want to know that the school you plan on attending has your desired major and minor. A school may offer a lot outside of academics, but the main reason you're attending school is for your education. Therefore, if a school doesn't have your major, you may need to look elsewhere.

What Resources and Support Are Available?

If you need accommodations when you're in college, psychological or medical services or a place where you can get additional assistance on assignments, most colleges will have something to offer. But, you'll want to be clear about this before you apply to a school. Some students need more support than others, and it's important to be sure that assistance is available.

What Activities and Opportunities Are Available?

Do you think you may be interested in studying abroad while you're in college? Perhaps you want to get involved with an intramural sport or a club. Maybe you want to join Greek life or get a job or internship while you're in school. If you're looking to get involved in campus life, then these are good questions to ask college representatives.

Does the School Offer Financial Assistance?

Other important questions to ask college admissions counselors are about tuition costs and fees. Some schools are exponentially cheaper or more expensive than other colleges, for instance, private schools versus state schools. When asking about tuition, you should also ask what kind of financial assistance is available, in addition to FAFSA. Does the school offer scholarships, grants or work-study programs?

What Are the Demographics Like?

If you're interested in attending a college that is diverse, then you should ask representatives what the demographics are of a school. Maybe this doesn't make a difference in your decision, but minority students may feel more comfortable attending a college that has students with backgrounds similar to their own.

When Is the Ideal Time to Apply

Finally, if all checks out and you get the answers you like when asking questions to these colleges, then you'll want to finish the conversation by asking when to apply. When asking this, you'll want to find out what the deadlines are, if there is early action or early admissions and what you can include in your application to make you stand out. You'll also want to ask about scheduling an interview with the school, as this may increase your chances of getting admitted.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.