It’s finally that time of the year where the Charles County College Fair comes to the gym, open to juniors and seniors. For years, the school has been working to bring students dozens of college representatives that they can speak to and ask questions. On September 21, it was a chance for the classes of 2017 and 2018 to find their perfect college match.
Those who submitted a permission slip to Mrs. Grow in the Career Center were able to go to the gym during second block and meet with a myriad of colleges, given forty minutes to get as much information as they wanted. In this time, students had the opportunity to find colleges that carried their major, had sports and clubs they wanted, and find out about upcoming campus tours. Some of the colleges there included University of Maryland, Towson University, Coastal Carolina University, and Flagler College. With all of the wonderful schools at the fair, there was at least one representative there, willing to answer any and all questions the students had, as well as provide them with an array of booklets and pamphlets for interested parties to take.
One senior who attended was Stephen Williams (’17), who had some criticisms for the fair. When asked if the college fair had helped give him an idea of colleges that he wanted to attend, he answered, “No, because there weren’t any colleges there that offered my major.” Williams isn’t alone in this complaint however, a number of other students also stated that the fair didn’t have anything that catered to their needs and desires. “I did think the fair was helpful, though.” Williams added on, explaining that, “It gives you an idea of what you’ll be doing in college and what is available in your area.” Since he had stated that none of the schools available offered his major, Williams was asked if there were any schools that he wished were at the fair. To this, he answered, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Of course, it can be said that the fair is a place for students to get an insight to their future, but where is the evidence? One example can be found in NPHS alum, Daphine Henderson (’16), who now attends University of Maryland-College Park. When asked if the college fair had led her to UMD, she answered, “Not necessarily. Two of my choices (UNCG and UMD) were there, but at that time I wasn’t very interested in UMD. The major I was looking for (music performance) wasn’t very prominent at the college fair. For example, Peabody, my top choice, wasn’t there. Nor was Oberlin, or the Hartt School.” As shown with Williams, it isn’t rare that students may not find their favorite colleges at the fair, leading to the question of whether or not it has enough variety. Henderson elaborated with, “…I saw the college fair as very selective in reference to specific majors and locations, like of course there’s going to be DMV colleges, but barely any colleges were outside of the DMV and I don’t think any were outside the east coast. It doesn’t give students enough variety to go outside what they’re used to, so I generally felt the college fair was a waste in that aspect.” She does justify, however, that when she attended the college fair, she already knew what she wanted to go to school for, so she entered knowing that it wouldn’t help her much. In the end, though, when asked if she felt that the college fair led her to the right choice, she answered, “I’m going to say yes. Going to UMD was actually my last resort, because I didn’t know much about it and didn’t want to know about it. The gen ed requirements are crazy here, and I was worried that I’d be forced into another position where I was taking classes I hated that were completely unrelated to what I wanted to do. However, after about a month of being here, I realized it’s the complete opposite. I have a lot more freedom, I’m able to balance work with music and my 21 credits. I’m able to go to the gym to relieve stress and have a good amount of sleep and enough to eat. I’m able to balance it all so easily, so I’m glad I decided to go to UMD.”
The college fair can be helpful to some and not so much to others, but it is still a wonderful resource for students to start seriously thinking about their future and whether or not higher education is something that they would pursue. College is an important part in some young adults’ lives, and the college fair has hopefully provided those people with any help that they needed. Underclassmen are highly encouraged to attend when they get the chance.