This fall, if you’re a high school junior or senior—or even an aspirational freshman or sophomore—you’re definitely going to be at a college fair. They can be a little intimidating, but they’re the best way to sample the variety of universities that are open to you.
You should dress appropriately for the academic setting of a college fair (no crop tops!), but you should also make sure that your unique personality comes through. If you enjoy wearing prints and patterns, don’t be afraid to show off your unique style; instead, choose one standout item rather than five.
What To Wear To a College Fair
First things first, when attending a college fair, you should dress “smart casual.” In case you’re unaware, smart casual entails:
- Combining more formal pieces like fitted pants or a lovely skirt with more casual ones like comfy shoes and shirts
- Dressing in a way that isn’t as formal as a full-on business suit for men or women; something that is sufficiently casual for an office “casual Friday”
Whatever the occasion, sweaters are a safe bet, but for a college fair, where you want to look put together but still show off your individuality, a striking knit is especially appropriate.
Skirts and Trousers
Tailored pants are appropriate for both men and women. Since they seem to fit much better than pants you buy off the rack at a store, tailored pants look fantastic.
Stylish skirts are an additional option available to women. The old school rule, “longer than your fingers outstretched hanging out your sides,” applies here; the skirts shouldn’t be too short. Skirts fit the smart casual look because they can be worn to the office.
When it comes to pants, washed Charleston khakis are great choices. Not only can you wear these pants to your future job, but they’re also not so dressy that you can’t go out with your friends after the college fair.
It’s acceptable to wear Oxford shoes, cosy sneakers, or similar footwear. Attending a college fair doesn’t require you to wear formal dress shoes! Regardless of gender, make sure your shoes are comfortable because you will probably be walking around for several hours, and you don’t want to be walking around while talking to recruiters.
Just steer clear of open-toed footwear, such as sandals or flip-flops, as these styles don’t take smart casual seriously enough. In the worst case, they may indicate to a recruiter that you aren’t a serious candidate.
Shirts and blouses
Collared shirts are appropriate for both men and women. Long-sleeved shirts and collared or polo T-shirts are excellent options. Alternatively, men can opt for Henley shirts if they want to fall on the side of casual. Additionally, women can choose to dress in conservative or modest blouses. Your upper apparel should have an office-ready appearance. Wearing offensive language or imagery on your t-shirt is especially discouraged.
When visiting potential schools, you can definitely wear jeans. We advise you to choose black rather than the more conventional blue, and you could even try wearing corduroy instead of denim.
- Keep your jewellery simple and understated. Avoid large or flashy pieces.
- A watch is a nice way to add a touch of sophistication to your outfit.
- A scarf can add a pop of colour and personality to your outfit.
What not to do at college fairs
Don’t dress inappropriately
Don’t wear flashy clothing. It’s not required that you wear a business suit or a suit and tie. You are welcome to wear casual attire, such as what you would wear to class or to the fair. Wearing too-revealing apparel is not advised. Wearing apparel with offensive words or images is discouraged. It’s acceptable to wear the uniform of your favourite sports team or even college, but avoid wearing items that contain profanity, offensive language, or images.
Don’t Go Into The Fair Too Early
A lot of the bigger fairs, such as the NACAC Fairs, have “guards” at the entrance who won’t let anyone in until the event officially begins. However, smaller fairs, such as those hosted by high schools, don’t always prevent students from arriving at the event ahead of schedule. Allow the admissions representatives this time so they can set up their tables and get ready to speak with prospective students for a few hours. They need this time.
Don’t disrespect the person behind the table
Your actions may be seen by college representatives at the colleges you are interested in attending, even if it is a college you are not interested in attending. Numerous college delegates converse and know one another. As you can see, the college reps were likely at the same college fair the night before and will be at another one the following night. They most likely hang out and chat outside of college fairs, and they are friends.
Don’t stay after the fair
There’s a purpose for the specific hours of college fairs. To ensure that you have enough time to visit every college during the official fair hours, get to the fair early. Don’t stay late, and keep the admissions representatives after the fair.
Don’t Use Another College Table To Fill Out an Information Card for Another College
Use tables only if they are owned by the college where you are obtaining your information. You might obstruct someone who is genuinely interested in that particular college if you use their table. Show them some courtesy by giving them space.
Don’t Come Unprepared
College fairs typically last just a few hours. Once you’re there, even though it might seem like a long time, it will pass quickly, and you’ll wonder, “Where did the time go?” You’ll feel good about yourself if you come prepared with a list of colleges you want to see and questions you want to ask.
The college representative will most likely think you are unprepared if you show up unprepared. When speaking with college representatives, being well-prepared will leave a positive impression; conversely, being ill-prepared will also leave an impression.
What questions should I ask at college fairs?
- What makes your college different from other colleges?
- Do many students attend from my state or region? What would entice a resident of my state or neighbourhood to your university?
- I’m interested in ____ major. What are some unique opportunities or programs offered for students with that major?
- Can you tell me about special programs and opportunities for freshmen?
- Are you this region’s admissions representative? If not, find out who they are and request their contact details or business card. (After that, tell them you went to the fair in an email and ask any more questions you may have.)
Dressing appropriately for a college fair can make a positive impression on college representatives and demonstrate your interest in their institution. By following the tips provided, you can choose an outfit that is both professional and stylish, allowing you to focus on making meaningful connections with potential schools and navigating the college fair with confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the overall dress code for a college fair? While there’s no strict dress code, it’s generally recommended to dress business casual or semi-formal. This means avoiding jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops and opting for more polished attire that reflects your interest in the event.
- What should I wear as a male student? For men, a neat pair of khakis or dress pants paired with a collared shirt, such as a polo or button-down, is a classic and professional choice. Clean sneakers or dress shoes can complete the look.
- What should I wear as a female student? For women, a skirt or dress that falls at or below the knee is a versatile option, accompanied by a blouse or sweater for a polished touch. Dress shoes or flats are suitable footwear.