Planning ahead for college

High school students learn about 74 colleges and universities during college fair.
Sep. 05, 2013 @ 05:05 AM

Juniors and seniors in Rutherford County Schools (RCS) were able to explore 74 colleges and universities during a college fair on Wednesday.

"It's a unique opportunity for students to meet face-to-face with college recruiters. It gives them an opportunity to ask specific questions about the universities' academic programs and extracurricular activities," said Renee Collins, RCS director of secondary education.

The fair was held at The Foundation at Isothermal Community College (ICC) and was sponsored by the Carolinas Association of College Recruitment and Admissions Officers (CACRAO).

"This is put together in our partnership working with Rutherford County Schools. They asked us two years ago to host the college fair here instead of having it at the individual schools," said Alice McCluney, director of enrollment management at ICC. "Since moving here, they get more universities to participate than when they did it at the schools."

Students were divided into groups and bused in from all of the high schools. Each group was given an hour to visit the different tables and learn about the schools. Schools represented at the college fair included Appalachian State University, Barton College, Converse College, Elizabeth City State University, Livingstone College, Mars Hill College, North Carolina A&T University, Western Carolina University and many more.

"We are talking to the students about the basic facts about the school. This is an opportunity for us to get the word out about our university," said Claire Jones, an admissions counselor with Liberty University. "We love doing this. It has been really successful today."

RCS worked with the McNair Foundation to provide students online college resources to research before attending the fair. According to Monica Lee, executive director of the McNair Foundation, the resources were meant to help students narrow down colleges they might be interested in.

"For the juniors, this is their most important year. This fair is an opportunity for them to find schools that they want to visit," Lee said. "For the seniors it gives them a chance to actually talk to colleges that they are interested in. And they might find some schools that they never even thought about before."

Briana Geiger, a junior at East Rutherford High School, was surprised to learn more about colleges.

"I actually found some colleges I didn't know about that I would be interested in going to," Geiger said. "I didn't know that UNC Charlotte offered a lot of foreign languages and that's what I want to do. I want to be an interpreter for sign language and help deaf children."

Caylin Whiteside, a junior at R-S Central High School, was also thankful for the opportunity to learn more.

"The research I've done has only been online. Here I can ask questions about what would get me into the colleges," Whiteside said. "I want to be a veterinarian."

Lee said she is hopeful that the fair will be very beneficial for the students.

"They seem to be really taking advantage of it. Hopefully they are getting a lot out of it," Lee said.

And it wasn't just the students who enjoyed the fair.

"The best part is the opportunity to change students' lives if they choose to come to Catawba," Spencer Preston, admission counselor with Catawba College said. "I moved to Catawba from Florida but it was the best decision of my life."