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College Fairs on the Horizon

Students can gather information about colleges both near and far, at the annual Portland Area College Fair, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27, from 1-5 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center. Juniors and seniors are especially encouraged to attend, though sophomores can start their research if they like.

Students who register beforehand will get a bar code they can use to exchange contact information with college representatives, saving time.

There is another college fair in the spring, slightly smaller than the fall fair and typically held at the University of Portland on a Sunday in April. While the spring fair feels late for seniors, it can be optimal for both juniors and sophomores to begin or continue their research.

College Fair Attendee Tips:

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be on your feet for an hour or more.
  • Bring water and possibly a snack.
  • Consider bringing a cloth bag to collect information about colleges.
  • College fairs are noisy and can be tiring. Take a break if you need, and don’t stay longer than it feels productive. Go toward the end of the afternoon if you are sensitive to sound.

Think in advance:

  • Consider what college information is valuable to you now. Sophomores might want to concentrate on learning about basic features of a college education – curriculum requirements, campus life, and special opportunities. Juniors may want to dig into majors, application requirements, and financial aid. Seniors have a last chance to have their very specific questions answered.
  • Consider which colleges you want to visit with. Check the list of attending colleges here. When reviewing this list, keep an open mind and try to learn about colleges you have never heard of before. Ask your college counselor to recommend some less well-known schools you should check out.

Visiting with the colleges:

  • Stop at the table of a college that interests you and introduce yourself to the representative. By stopping, you are letting them know you are curious about the college. If you have a specific a question, ask it! If not, simply say, “Tell me a little about your college,” or listen to the question’s others pose.
  • If you decide you want more information or want to stay in communication with a school, ask the representative to scan your barcode. If not, simply thank them for the information and move on. If there are different brochures on the table, ask which one is most appropriate for you.
  • If the list of colleges you want to meet with is long, prioritize colleges that are further away and more difficult to visit.

How to follow up:

  • Look through and save the most interesting brochures.
  • Write notes and thoughts about particular colleges while your memory is fresh.
  • Email any admission representative with questions you did not have a chance to ask.

Sample Questions:


  • How big is your first year class?
  • What is unique about your (English, business, psychology, etc.) program or major?
  • Can students join a professor’s research team?
  • How common is it for students to study abroad? Do you run your own programs? What makes them special?

Social and Extracurricular Opportunities

  • What do students do when they are not studying?
  • What are some interesting traditions on campus?
  • I am involved in (theatre, service, leadership, etc.) at St. Mary’s, how could I continue to do that at your school?

Financial Aid

  • Does your school meet full need?
  • Are loans included a financial aid package?
  • Is work study available to all students or just those receiving need-based aid?
  • Does the school offer merit aid and how is it determined?