How to Nail a Virtual College Fair

by Bethany Goldszer | Last Updated: March 22, 2021
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Now that it is spring, we are in college fair season. Unfortunately, we’re still in a pandemic, so the traditional college fair hosted at a huge convention center is impossible. Instead, you’re likely getting invitations to attend a virtual college fair. I know there’s nothing in the world like collecting grab bags, brochures, and swag. 

However, what’s cool about a virtual college fair is they look like video games. They are set up so that you can go to different booths and tables and interact with people who represent the colleges right from the comfort of your computer. Even though it’s online, virtual college fairs give you the chance to learn more about colleges you’re excited about and get those important demonstrated interest points. College fairs are also how you get to know the people who will be reading your application.

I definitely want you to register for virtual college fairs as part of your college preparation. This post will share ways to make virtual college fairs valuable for you as you narrow down your college list. 

4 students enjoying their time at a virtual college fair

Bring your resume to a virtual college fair

All high school students should have a resume – a one-page snapshot of their academic profile, work experience, extracurricular activities, awards, and interests. Especially important if you have been involved in many activities, a resume is the quickest way to assess your readiness for college admissions and if you’re a good candidate. A resume also speaks to your preparedness for the event, maturity, and professionalism. 

When you draft your resume, give a rundown of your most significant activities since the ninth grade. You’ll show your GPA and test scores, extracurricular activities, and special projects that you’ve worked on. If you have paid employment, you’ll put that down, as well as internships and volunteer positions. Because it’s good to show that you’re a well-rounded student, you’ll also include a range of your interests and hobbies. If you do not have a resume, you can download a resume template from my resource box and choose four plug-and-play Google doc templates.

So you want to have a resume for when you go to the different booths. You’ll be interacting with a college representative who may offer a break-out session. Your resume will be a good icebreaker for the AO to use to ask you questions.  

ask questions all the time

Ask good questions

Speaking of good questions — you’ll want to have a list of questions to ask college admissions officers at a virtual college fair. You could ask general questions about college admissions, fit, and financial aid. However, I want your questions to be specific and show that you’ve done your research on the schools. Dig deep and think about the range of different types of questions you can ask and have them in your toolkit. Anytime you engage with an admissions officer, do not ask questions that you can easily find on their website. Rather, ask questions like these: 

  • My GPA and ACT or SAT scores are X and Y. Would I have a chance of admission with this academic profile?
  • What makes your school unique when compared to others?
  • I am interested in majoring in Z. What type of internship opportunities are available to students with this major?
  • What types of need-based and merit scholarships do you provide?
  • What kinds of support is available for a student with (insert special needs)?
  • What type of study abroad opportunities are available?
  • Can I minor or double major?
  • Are the majority of classes taught by professors or graduate students?
  • What is the 4-year graduation rate? What makes {X-school} successful in supporting students through graduation?

No question is too big or small or silly. The more questions you ask, the more you can feel good about whether the school is right.

What will also help you with your questions is knowing which colleges will be at the virtual college fair and which ones you’d like to connect with. From that list, I want you to isolate down to three to five schools that you want to connect with. Don’t just go blindly into the virtual college fair. Do your research so that you know what questions to ask.

Follow up with admissions officers

After the virtual college fair, you should follow up with the admissions officer you spoke with. At least 24 to 48 hours later, you’re going to send this person an email. You can use the sample email below to get started. 

Hi (Admissions Officer),

It was a pleasure speaking with you at the {institution/agency’s} college fair. I am excited about the opportunity to attend {institution}. Based on my research and what you presented to me, I know that {institution} offers the type of education, experience, and location that I am looking for.

I am particularly interested in {insert the unique thing they offer that you discussed or asked them about and they answered for you}.

I’d love to continue connecting with you and have attached my resume for your review and my file.

Thank you for your time,

(Your Name)

First Name Last Name

High School

City and State


In the email, you will thank them for taking the opportunity to sit down and speak with you. You’ll reiterate what you’re interested in studying at the school, why you’re interested in studying that, and why you think you’re a good fit for the school. You’ll tell the admissions officer that you’re excited about the college admissions journey and exploring further how the school fits into your long-term goals.

Also, do plan to stay in touch. Success in college admissions hinges on you building a relationship with the person who’ll be reading your application and will fight for you at the decision round table. 

girl volunteering in a virtual college fair

Conclusions + Next Steps

As some next steps, here’s what you should do to take action on getting prepared for a virtual college fair.

  1. Create your own or download my resume templates to put your achievements into. Find it here.
  2. Do your research on colleges ahead of time who will be attending and build a list of good questions to ask.
  3. After the event, fill out this College Fair Recap Sheet of your experience at the college fair.
  4. Write a thank you email to the admissions officer so that you begin building a relationship and are memorable.
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Bethany Goldszer is top college admissions and financial aid expert. She's been featured in HuffPost, USA Today, Newsday, Queens Gazette, and Official Black Wall Street & voted Best of Long Island. Faced with the overwhelming stress of applying, getting admitted to and financing her University of Chicago education, she started Stand Out College Prep LLC in 2012 so that no student or parent would have to go through this process alone. Over the last 15 years, Bethany has worked with over 1,500 students, helping them and their parents get into their top choice colleges and secure more than $20M in financial aid and scholarships. And each year, she continues to help more students stand out in the college admissions process and their parents navigate financial aid and scholarships.