College Fair connects students with higher education

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 12:08 PM

Hundreds of students came out Sunday for the Durham Public Schools College Fair in Northgate Mall.

For two hours, students and their parents could talk one-on-one with representatives from close to 100 colleges and universities who gathered in one spot to answer any and all questions college related.

Students signed in with their high schools upon arrival then perused the information tables that lined the center aisle. The event was hosted by Duke University and DPS but sponsored by the Carolina Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Parents and students alike seemed to find the fair useful.

Moustapha Barry and his son, Jean Christian, were at the Elon University table speaking with assistant dean of admissions Zaire McCoy when Barry said how important the fair was to his son’s future.

“He’s a junior but we’re looking at prospects for school,” Barry said. “It’s high time for him to decide. We want him to do what will make him happy, not what I did or his mother did.”

Christian said that he likes “medicine and biology but also theater and performing arts” so he was having a hard time figuring out which schools to consider.

McCoy said that Sunday turned out to be a really good day and one with a bit of a surprise.

“I’ve had a lot of sophomores and younger so they’re completely overwhelmed but the juniors and seniors are definitely asking good questions,” she said. “It’s been really good.”

Among the institutions represented were Shenandoah University, Coastal Carolina Community College, UNC Charlotte, Indiana University, Watts School of Nursing and Liberty University. Duke University, North Carolina Central University, UNC Chapel Hill and Durham Technical Community College were on hand as well.

Bringing a different perspective to the college fair was Sarita Broadway with the College Foundation. As college costs continue to rise, Broadway said that there was a lot of interest in how to finance higher education.

“The students and parents seem to know what questions to ask,” she said. “You can tell they did some research prior to attending.”

Questions ranged from the process for applying for financial aid, how soon to apply for aid and the likelihood of a student being awarded aid, she said.

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“The timing of the event is really good.” Broadway said. “I’m definitely praising that,” she said of the  1-3 p.m. time slot. “It’s gone very well and been very well attended.”

Demetre Harris and her daughter Alana were on a mission when they arrived at the college fair. Alana, a senior at Jordan High School, and her mother had a plan.

“We’re looking for specific schools,” Harris said.

“North Carolina State University, UNC Wilmington and the University of Virginia,” Alana explained. “I want to study operations information management.”

Alana said that she is excited about going to college, “the independence, the new culture, the distance, the people in a completely different city” but she had questions about specific program deadlines and what the next step would be if she is awarded a National Merit Scholarship.

Helping to give her daughter a taste of the independence she craves, Harris left the navigation of the day in her daughter’s hands.

“We’ve talked about everything before,” she said. “The questions, she’ll be asking all of those.”