The 2015 College Fair


Casey Bacon, Senior Chief Editor

The Fair with Visiting Schools and Useful Information, not the One with Fried Oreos and Rides

  Pulling into the parking lot Tuesday night, I knew that making my way through the Hollywood Firehouse was not going to be easy. With a near-packed lot in the latter half of the day’s proceedings, the first steps into the building gave you the initial impression of what was to come from the evening: noise, people, and pamphlets everywhere. The main hall of the building was nearly wall-to-wall with college booths itching to entice both students and parents to take a look at the many options that are available in higher education; each and every representative was standing with a smile, at the ready to answer any questions from attendees regarding their respective schools and prove more than helpful to any questions that are posed. Such was the scene set for the evening of the 24th annual Southern Maryland County College Fair.

  Put on by the St. Mary’s and Calvert County public school systems, the College of Southern Maryland, St. Mary’s Ryken, and the St. Mary’s County libraries, the free admission to this exhibition had already seen the first of its attendants in the students-only session earlier that afternoon. Upwards of 120 colleges and universities sent representatives to the county for the day, eager and ready to attract and enlighten searching students on the reasons that their school is by far the superior choice. If you’ve never been to this college fair- or any, for that matter- the word is “overwhelming.” Students and parents traverse from stand to stand, utterly crowding the room, and everyone seems to know exactly what they’re there to do or find out. Meanwhile, if you were new to the expo, like myself, you were probably feeling just the slightest bit flustered, adrift, and maybe even intimidated. Good thing was, everyone there was present to help you. Booklets were offered and handed to each attendant, containing a complete list of those colleges present and helpful information on each, listing each school’s location, enrollment size, general cost, which test scores they accept, and the type of school it is- public or private, co-ed or not- and how to learn more about the school. The college fair had everything a college hopeful needs to decide the school for them. And the fair does include a school for every type of interest and every type of student- liberal arts, graphics and design, religiously-affiliated, military, community, historically black, all-women’s, coeducational, culinary, doctoral, research, and even space and aerodynamics. In the case of many schools, admissions counselors were there as delegates- the phrase, “well, I’m the one who would be reading your application essays, so any questions, don’t hesitate to ask,” actually sounded more like something of a comfort when delivered in person rather than a dejection.

  Not only was this an event to discover more on where you want to go, but just how to get there. The fair offered resources like assisting with applications- the public library’s Help Now includes an almost-too-good-to-be-true feature in which you can submit and get feedback on essays within a 24 hour period: all you need is a library card!- and details on both the popular and obscure scholarships that are available for you to benefit from. The fair even offered a financial aid workshop, where parents and students learned about the difference between gift financial aid (scholarships and grants) and self-help financial aid (work-study or loans), as well as the multitude of places this assistance could come from, and what it takes to receive such.

  Though the thought of college may be a far-off thought for underclassmen, no time is too early to start looking into your future. Rhonda Harris, supervisor of school counselors in St. Mary’s county, says that the whole process is about “exploration and reflection.” In other words: you don’t have to know exactly what you want yet, but when given a perfect opportunity to consider some ideas and pursue information, why wouldn’t you? Sophomores (and even freshmen) can begin to scout the plethora of options that they have in front of them; juniors have the opportunity to start narrowing down their choices and their parents can learn more about how to afford such; seniors have the privilege to put a face to the school name as they continue to refine their school lists and finalize their decisions. From this humble journalist’s perspective as a harried and anxious senior who’s still considering her options, the 24th annual Southern Maryland College Fair was not only a huge help personally, but a huge success overall. If you missed the chance this year, be sure to catch next year’s silver jubilee of the event- your collegiate self is giving thanks already.