Hours (even days) after the Long Island National College Fair at the Nassau Coliseum, I can still see the glazed looks in the eyes of parents and high school students. You know. That deer-in-the-headlights glare as they attempted to traverse the aisles, packed in like sardines, swimming upstream against the current as if salmons on their way to spawn. [How's that for mixed metaphors?The College Whisperer ™ wants to give equal time to all species. Cue the reptiles! ;-)]

Yes, if you attended the College Fair, and didn't leave the hallowed halls of the Coliseum but $12 poorer (parking), and dazed, confused and bewildered, you must have been at the wrong venue (or waiting for tickets for the Islanders' opening game).

For those who didn't get to the College Fair (it seemed as though everyone on Long Island was there), by all means contact College Connection at 516-345-8766 to see what you missed. For those who made it to the Fair -- and there were thousands (most of whom were crowded around five or six popular college booths) -- contact College Connection (that number again is 516-345-8766) to help you sort out all the info you packed into those plastic bags they dutifully handed out. [Hmmm. You would think, in these times of environmental concern, someone would have asked, "paper or plastic?" Oh well.]

The College Whisperer ™  would like your take on the College Fair experience. Worth it? Waste of time? Information overload? What information? No mustard at the concession stand? Write to me at info@collegeconnect.info.

A small snippet from The College Whisperer's ™ playbook:

Worth It: Schmoozing, one-on-one, with student representatives from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and admissions personnel from smaller, or often overlooked colleges.

Not Worth It: Standing in line, 6 or 8 deep, waiting to fill out a card requesting information at the booths of large, popular colleges, such as Syracuse University, when you can get or request the very same info online at the school's website.

Worth It: Having the opportunity to harangue (SAT word) the reps from College Board, which now has to pay for a booth and reach out to students who they may loose (and rightfully so, in my humble opinion) to the ACT. [One of the largest crowds at the Fair was, in fact, gathered around the table manned by the College Board reps. And almost all of them wore scowled faces and carried torches and pitchforks! ;-)]

Not Worth It: Trying to joke with an alum representing a small southern college (name withheld to protect this tiny enclave of southern charm and hospitality), who clearly did not want to be on Long Island (the constant yawns were a dead giveaway), and could not fathom the subtle (and not so) humor of us native New Yorkers.

While some of those I spoke with during the Fair found the experience to be rewarding, most expressed exacerbation (good SAT word), and an overwhelming desire to find the exit door.

Overwhelming. [Notice the segue (another great SAT word) here.] That's how most parents describe the college application and admission process. Too much information. Too few cogent (one more SAT word) answers. Over-the-top competition, particularly at the schools deemed as "selective" (and aren't they all?). Soooo very expensive, as to put most colleges (and not only the Ivies) out of financial reach.

So, the College Fair (or, should I say, the National College Fair? There are other College Fairs to come) is behind us. What lies ahead? [And do you know when to use "lies" and when to use "lays?" ;-)]

First, let's end the madness. Stop the insanity. Take the stress out of the process. 

Then, let's concentrate on the work that needs to be done toward the dual ends every student seeks to accomplish: applying to/getting into the college that's "best" for you (nor Forbes, Princeton ReviewU.S. News & World Report, or Money magazine) and finding and getting (two different and distinct animals) money to pay for college.

The "How To" on accomplishing these critical goals? [Hint: You won't find the answers in any book or on the Internet].
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