‘Tis the season to start shopping …for colleges | NevadaAppeal.com

‘Tis the season to start shopping …for colleges

Brian Underwood
For the Nevada Appeal

If your mind immediately went to Christmas shopping, it’s probably time to begin thinking about that, too.

However, the months of October and November also represent the heart of the shopping season for students and families to connect with colleges and universities to assess the best fit.

Every year at this time, admissions representatives head out on the road to provide prospective students an opportunity to learn more about their institutions. One of the most popular places for these interactions to occur is at college fairs.

There are different types of fairs staged by various sponsoring bodies. Some fairs represent specific interests in the college planning process, such as Christian college fairs; specific music, art, and drama fairs; as well as regional and national fairs put on by cooperatives of high school counselors and college admissions representatives.

In general, the concept for a fair is to provide students and families the opportunity to attend a large venue to browse an array of schools. To this end, prospective college students throughout Northern Nevada will have a wonderful opportunity to windowshop at a regional college fair being held in the area in two weeks.

The Western Association for College Admission Counseling will host its annual regional fair for Northern Nevada from 12 to 4 p.m. Nov. 6 at the University of Nevada’s Joe Crowley Student Union, 1664 North Virginia St., Reno.

As of last week, WACAC reported that more than 60 colleges and universities planned to attend this year’s fair at UNR, which is free to the public. A list of the schools scheduled to attend the event, along with a College Fair Checklist, can be found under the “College Fair” link on the College & Career Planning page of the Sierra Lutheran High School website – http://www.slhs.com.

Attending a college fair is an excellent way to test the college planning waters, regardless of a student’s grade level or the amount of prior research that has been performed.

By visiting with admissions representatives in the comfort of one’s home territory, attendees can easily begin to compare and contrast the cultures of various institutions, the majors and programs they offer, the services they provide, as well as their unique admissions and financial aid processes.

The energy and enthusiasm surrounding a college fair is typically very high.

A significant factor, which should come as no surprise, is the high level of affability and vigor among the representatives, each tasked with sharing the many virtues of his or her school.

At the same time, the presence of such fervor, in addition to the colorful booths and the materials – and goodies – that are handed out can cause sensory overload. This is why it is prudent to approach a college fair with a game plan.

To maximize a trip to a college fair, one should consider a bit of prior planning, beginning with what to bring.

In most cases, a fair will provide some sort of light-weight bag in which attendees can place the brochures and other items they collect.

Nevertheless, it is advisable to bring a bag or backpack, just in case.

Since most of the representatives will likely ask visitors to complete an interest card, be prepared to have a pen along.

To save time (and writer’s cramp), savvy students will print up 1-2 pages of mailing labels that can be easily affixed to an interest card. Include your name, address, e-mail, phone, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), and extracurricular activities.

Lastly, print multiple copies of the aforementioned College Fair Checklist produced by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

This checklist includes a list of important questions to ask admissions representatives.

The WACAC Fair at UNR represents a wonderful opportunity for students of all ages, including middle school students, to learn more about a variety of schools while having a great time in the process.

In an effort to promote literacy in this important area, Sierra Lutheran High School is hosting a free bus trip to the WACAC fair for area eighth-graders accompanied by a parent.

The bus will leave the SLHS parking lot at 11 a.m. and return around 5 p.m.

For more information, call 775-267-1921.

Happy shopping!

• Brian Underwood is the executive director of Sierra Lutheran High School, he can be reached at underwood@slhs.com.