If the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) annual spring college fair season is already underway, can daffodils be far behind? Kicking off the last week in January, the annual college road show takes place in every major metropolitan area in the country and wraps up the first week in May. Each event brings together thousands of college-bound high school students and connects them with admissions professionals representing hundreds of colleges and universities.
Free and open to the public, NACAC's National College Fairs annually attract more than 850,000 high school students to forums designed to allow students and their families to interact with representatives from a wide range of post secondary institutions. They discuss admissions and financial aid requirements as well as course offerings, college life and other information relevant to the college selection process.
This year, NACAC in conjunction with the Potomac and Chesapeake ACAC (PCACAC) announced the first Prince George's County National College Fair, scheduled to take place on Friday, April 16 and Saturday, April 18, at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland. The annual Montgomery County National College Fair will take place at the Montgomery County Agricultural Center on Wednesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 15.
Although neither local National College Fair offers pre-registration opportunities (many now do), students and their families should make time to review the roster of participating institutions in advance of attending. Once you arrive, pick up a bag of materials and a fair directory. Note the schedule of information sessions and the location of the fair's Counseling Center. Map your route and concentrate on colleges of interest, but be open to new ideas. NACAC warns that it's "easy to get caught up in crowds and confusion," so try to have a fair strategy in place.
These events can certainly be hectic, but with a little advance planning, they will be extremely valuable to your college search process. And don't wait until senior year to attend your first college fair. Starting sophomore or junior year will make you an expert college fair navigator by the time you're senior!