College Fairs

A college night, or college fair, is an annual event at the local high school level where colleges from across the nation assemble to tell students about their schools and distribute recruitment information. Each college or university sends a representative, who may be either a professional staff member or a well-informed alumni volunteer.

If  the college night is particularly large or in an area where SMU is especially popular, the University may send an SMU admission counselor and a SeRVe representative. (Note: Some high schools may require a professional staff member to represent the University.)


  • Expand SMU’s visibility with high school guidance counselors and in the community as a whole
  • Build interest in SMU among local high school students
  • Persuade high school seniors to apply
  • Gather information on younger students for SMU’s inquiry base
  • Inform parents about SMU’s offerings
  • Encourage a campus visit

Before the program

A copy of the college fair invitation and a box of admission materials will be sent to each SeRVe representative. The college fair invitation will include the date, time, place and college fair coordinator’s name.

Typically, the box will contain:

  • Prospective student inquiry cards
  • Brochures illustrating the SMU experience
  • Financial aid and merit-based scholarship information
  • Applications (specifically for seniors)
  • Fair Evaluation Form
  • A name tag
  • Admission counselor’s business cards
  • An SMU banner or table tent, if available

Volunteers should familiarize themselves with SMU’s admission materials.

College nights typically are located in an area of the school that allows ample browsing space, such as a gym or a cafeteria. A table will be set up for each college to display its recruitment materials. Students and parents will browse these areas to pick up materials and ask questions. Representatives of each university are asked to stand behind their respective tables.

Arrive early. Allow plenty of time to register and set up materials.

Helpful Hint: Before the program begins, separate the inquiry cards into stacks of 25 or 50, depending on the size of the program. At the end of the night, the exact number of students who stopped at the table can be determined by counting the number of cards remaining in the stack.

During the program

  • Attend college nights dressed in business attire. Volunteers should wear name tags to identify themselves as alumni representatives of SMU.
  • Stand behind the table provided. Handing out materials in front of the table, or while walking around, is not permissible.
  • Give each student prospect an inquiry card. Have the student complete the card and leave it at the table. If a student insists upon mailing it, that is acceptable. We would prefer to receive an inquiry card at a later date rather than not receive a card at all.
  • There are a limited number of applications to hand out. Please ensure that these applications are given to senior students. Please inform a prospective student that SMU Enrollment Services will send an application promptly upon receipt of his or her inquiry card if applications are not available.
  • Offer juniors and younger students an inquiry card and other materials rather than an application form. Assure students that if they complete an inquiry card they will be on the mailing list for other publications and will receive an application in August of their senior year.
  • Remain at the program until the time period expires or the host indicates the program is over.
  • The following materials are not to be distributed: bumper stickers, buttons, pennants, posters, rulers, candy, T-shirts or other gimmicks.

After the program

  • Separate the cards according to the student’s year in school.
  • Make an effort to say good-bye and thank the hosting high school guidance counselor and organizers.
  • A college program evaluation form from SMU Enrollment Services is included within the box of materials sent to volunteers. Volunteers are asked to complete and return the evaluation, as well as the completed inquiry cards, as soon as possible.
Do not commit to participate in a college fair and not be in attendance. If volunteers are unable to attend the college night, they are asked to notify their SMU staff liaison. It is very important that the high school is informed. This will help minimize any disappointment and/or frustration from counselors, students and parents.