College Counseling Corner: Preparing for the college fair

By Sarah Soule

As area high school students prepare to return to school and deal with the excitement of a new academic year, they also are reminded that the college fair is just around the corner. On Wednesday evening, Sept. 12 and Thursday morning, Sept. 13, St. Michael’s College in Colchester will welcome over 200 colleges and universities from all over the country to their campus.  Representatives will be available to meet with interested students and parents as they explore higher educational opportunities.

The college fair is an ideal place to meet individually with admission officers and learn more about specific institutions. Reviewing college websites and in print is great, but meeting an admissions representative in person is even better. By attending the college fair, students will be able to garner additional information and have individual questions answered.

After having taken the SAT and/or ACT and attending the fair and filling out contact cards, students will likely receive multiple mailings from colleges and universities. I encourage each student to set up a home filing system whereby they can sort the materials they collect. It’s wise to have a system in place to sort each college’s information, that way you’ll be able to access it quickly and easily.

Students often wonder how to make the most of the college fair prior to attending. Students enrolled at Vermont Commons, Rice, and CVU have access to Naviance, an online college counseling partner that is an in-depth, highly personalized database of colleges.  Another great resource is the College Board’s website: For further information about how to research colleges and find ones that best suit your personal interests, ask your college counselor. He or she will gladly show you how to start creating a list.

The important thing to remember when researching colleges is to not immediately dismiss a college or university because you have never heard of it before. That is the premise of a book called “Colleges That Change Lives”  Many of the colleges mentioned in the book will be at the college fair at St. Michael’s. I had never heard of many of them prior to reading the book for the first time over 10 years ago.  I have now visited 25 of the 40 member institutions and I can honestly say that they truly do “change lives.”

Go to the college fair with an open mind, ask lots of questions, and return home with a bag full of interesting materials to review. Start reading and have fun as you begin the college search process!

Sarah Soule is the Director of College Counseling at the Vermont Commons School in South Burlington. Prior to working at VCS, she served as a senior member of the admission staff at Champlain College for 20 years.  She also works as an independent educational consultant advising students on independent school and college admission process. She is quoted in the Princeton Review’s nationally publicized book The Portable Guidance Counselor.

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