What Good are College Fairs?

Last week I spent an entire day at the National College Fair in Houston. An entire exhibit hall was filled with colleges. Some from outside the US… This mass gathering of schools highlighted the fact that there is a college for anyone who wants to continue their education after separating from high school. I say separating because some students do not leave high school with a diploma.

Of course, there were colleges in attendance who only accept about 10% or less of the students who apply.   But, there were also colleges who have an open door policy. If you completed high school and fill out the forms correctly, they will take you. It will possibly require additional testing on your part, but that should not be a deterrent if college is something you want.

The cost of attending college in general is very expensive. Many of the colleges with representatives at the fair had very expensive price tags but there are less expensive options and not everyone has to pay retail price. The key reason that colleges attend fairs of this type is to meet one on one with potential students, provide them with information and answer their questions. Many families are amazed when they discover programs in place at many colleges that make them affordable options. Some of the qualifications for discounted education costs usually begin with good grades, good test scores, financial need and sometime ethnic background. The challenge for the high school student is asking the right questions to the right colleges.

The first step is to decide if you need a college degree to achieve your goals in life. If the answer is yes, then get busy locating colleges that fulfill your education needs. If you emphasize your needs more than your wants, a handful of colleges should emerge that are good candidates.

A college needs to have your intended major. Other needs may be services for student with disabilities, decreased emphasis on grades, option of sending SAT or ACT scores, percent of financial need met and location of school. Weigh your needs to generate a college list and then pick colleges from the list that have the things you want. Find out all you can about these colleges and get to know an admissions counselor and a financial aid officer. They will help you get accepted and point you in the direction of the funding needed to earn the degree you seek. It’s not rocket science unless you select it as your major. Like anything else, you will get out of it what you put into it. Ask counselors or any adult you know and get to work designing your future.

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