Fall is already buzzing with excitement. School has started, leaves are changing colors and the college search is going on for many high school students and transfers. This time of year offers you a variety of opportunities you should not pass up.

 College Fairs:  There are more colleges than you realize and attending a college fair will show you a wide variety of choices. There will be schools you’ve heard of 100 times and schools you didn’t know existed. This is a great time to gather information. Oh and bring your parents. Yes I know you may think they have a limited scope of where you should attend college, but fairs are a great way for you to show them that there are many fantastic colleges that could be a good fit for you. Attending a fair (or multiple fairs) will also allow you to build relationships with college representatives who will be your advocate throughout the admissions process.  This is a great opportunity to express your interest and make an impression that will help you in the college process.

The myblueprintstory.com site will help you find out when a Christian College Fair will be in your area, register for the fair near you, and get maps to the fair location.  Insider Tip: Did I mention that there are financial aid presentations at the Christian College Fairs? Make sure to sit in on a presentation between visiting tables. You and I both know that your parents are concerned about how to pay for school, put their mind at ease with the knowledge you gain at the financial aid presentation.

Presentations at your school: College representatives from schools around the country visit high schools and community colleges throughout the year. A majority of the these visits will be scheduled in the fall between September and early November so check in at your college and career center or transfer center to see who will be visiting your campus. Insider Tip: When you attend a presentation, it will give you a chance to ask specific questions and make a personal connection. Be sure to introduce yourself, talk about your interests and ask questions. You want to be sure that these reps remember you when admission decisions are being made.

Campus Visits:  I suggest that you visit the schools you are most interested in between your junior year and the first semester of your senior year if you are in high school. Being on-campus will give you a clearer picture if the schools you are interested in could be a new home away from home for you. When I was in high school I visited what I thought was the school of my dreams. It was in the ideal location, had a great reputation, and had the major I was looking for. However, after visiting, I knew it ultimately wasn’t the right school for me. In the fall colleges and universities will offer on-campus visit days specifically designed to give you a glimpse at what it would be like to attend their school. These are normally large group events. Insider Tip:  If you would like a more personalized visit, ask to visit on a non-event day and make sure you get a tour and a meeting with someone in the admissions office. This would also be a great time to request a meeting with a coach or ask to audition for the music or theater departments.

Applications: I know this is everyone’s favorite part of the college process. Answering questions and writing essays may not be your favorite activity but this is one of the best investments of time you will ever spend. Once you have narrowed down your schools to a manageable group, start applying.  The best time to apply is in the fall. Many schools have fall deadlines and might waive application fees early on.  Some schools don’t have deadlines until sometime in the spring but applying in the fall will give you the best shot at acceptance. The connection you make through the application process will allow the schools to communicate vital information about financial aid and events that you won’t want to miss.  Insider Tip: When completing your essay use proper grammar and use the spell check feature on the computer.  You’d be shocked at the essays that people try to submit essays half written in text language, no punctuation, no capitalizing, etc… Don’t be that guy, it won’t help you get into school.

Fairs, presentations, visits, and applications will be your recipe for college search success. Take advantage of these fall opportunities to investigate which schools are right for you and make an impression on your favorite schools.

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