When it comes to college fairs, not all are built alike. But when it comes to student recruiting, there are always ample opportunities to make them worth your while, as a college or university marketer. Most importantly, don’t just "show up" - be present and show how appealing your institution is, in order to help secure new students.
Here are a few tips for your college or university to bring its "A" game to its upcoming slate of college fairs.
Before you go to a college fair, learn where students will be coming from and if any of their high schools specialize in the programs you offer. If the high school from which they come has a specialization in a certain area, bring a representative of that department to get the ball rolling with prospective students. Collect data on your university’s current and former students to learn what schools they attended before coming to you, and identify trends. Some trends to look for might even include what students from a given high school typically major in. This information can be great to have at your disposal in order to determine who and what information to bring with to a college fair.
It would also be nice to reference student data to determine which college fairs are worth your attendance. If there is a fair in a town in which a competing university typically lands a majority of the students, it may not be as beneficial to exhibit.
Watch out for trends, and show that your college or university is current with those trends. Some college fairs feature scanning technology so universities can quickly and easily collect attendees' information. If it's available, be sure to use it. The current generation of incoming freshmen places a high importance on tech-relevancy, and whether or not your university is up to date could encourage or discourage them from visiting your booth and starting a conversation. Make sure to post about the college fair on your social accounts to drive new traffic to your pages and remind incoming students of how active your college or university is.
First impressions are so important, which means your booth has to be well executed to show off the strength of your college's or university's brand. Call in before the event to ask what kind of space is available to you to determine what you will want to bring. If you have room, don’t stop at simply backdrops, signage and tablecloths. Keep the take-home information current and attractive (and consider making it fully digital for both ease of distribution and ease of continued updating).