Tips for International Students Attending a College/University Fair in the United States

Students at a National College Fair


International students who attend National College Fairs have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from colleges and universities to discuss admission and financial aid opportunities. The following tips will help you make the most of your fair experience.

Register before the fair. If you pre-register at, you can skip the long registration line once you get to the fair.  When you arrive, pick up a map to identify the colleges and universities that you think would best meet your academic and personal goals. This is also a great opportunity to learn about colleges and universities that are new to you.

Explore a variety of colleges and universities. Typically, you will find hundreds of colleges and universities from across the United States, and other countries, at the fair. The colleges and universities will be different in many ways: some offer two-year associate degrees, and others, four-year bachelor’s degrees. In the U.S., both colleges and universities can award four-year degrees.  It is very important that you visit some schools that you have never heard of before, and ask questions to learn about what they offer.

Learn more about how international students apply to college. Admission requirements and deadlines differ among colleges and universities.  Most colleges and universities have additional requirements for international students, such as TOEFL or IELTS exam results or financial forms.  When you visit the table of a college or university, take the opportunity to learn about their admission process and requirements for international students.  Use some of the sample questions below to get started.

Gather information about cost of attendance as well as financial aid opportunities for international students. The costs of studying at a college or university can vary widely. Be sure to ask about the estimated expenses for international students each year.  Are scholarships and financial aid available to international students?  How competitive is this financial assistance?

Make a list of questions before you approach a college or university’s table.  Think about what information you most want to know from each school.  You may wish to take notes, so it can be helpful to write questions in a notebook in advance of the fair.  Here are some sample questions:

1. What percentage of your student body is international?

2. What countries do your students most commonly come from?

3. What are some of the typical characteristics of students who attend your school?

4. How does your institution support international students?  For example, what happens if I get sick?  What if I am having a hard time academically, socially, or emotionally?

5. What academic programs are very strong at your institution? Is acceptance into certain academic programs more competitive for international students?

6. How do international students interact on your campus with American students?

7. What are the housing options for students at your school?  How many students live on campus?

8. What are the dining options on campus?  Are your food service providers sensitive to students with different dietary needs?

9. What do students do when they are not in class? What is life like on the weekends?

10. How will I get from my home country to your campus?  For example, how close to campus is the nearest international airport?

11. Can you describe the community or environment surrounding your school? Is public transportation easily accessible? Is there a thriving social scene? Are there parks or areas to do outdoor activities?

12. Can you share success stories of recent international students? 

13. Are you able to connect me with recent alumni or current students from my country so I can learn more about their experiences?