College Fair Bridges Gap Between Students and Four Year Schools

Three-hundred students. Twenty-nine colleges. One room. One purpose: giving New Visions students the chance to explore opportunities at four-year colleges.

New Visions’ Community Engagement and College Readiness (CECR) team hosted its a college fair earlier this fall, inviting 12th graders and guidance counselors from New Visions schools to engage with select local and regional four year colleges and universities.

“Roughly 60% of the students who graduate from New Visions’ network of schools enroll in local, two-year colleges,” said Lydell Carter, senior program officer of community engagement and college readiness. “So we wanted to create an opportunity for seniors from our schools to come interact with and learn more about four-year colleges and what they have to offer.”

Students and their guidance counselors arrived at Academy for Careers in Television and Film in droves, eager to visit the dozens of colleges represented at tables lining the walls of the school’s gymnasium.

”Today, I came here hoping to get more info about SUNY schools on my list and find out what makes each of them unique,”  said Jelima Johnson, a 12th grader from The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens.

“I’m excited to talk to representatives from the colleges,” added TYWLS senior, Samantha Richards. “It’s different from just learning about a school online. You can ask them personal questions.”

The colleges, including Wesleyan University, Trinity College, University of Pennsylvania and SUNY Potsdam, were hand-picked by the CECR team based on retention and graduation rates, available student support services as well as financial aid offerings.

“It was important for us to find schools that we knew would be able to support our students and their diverse needs,” added Carter. “We also wanted to plant a message within the minds of college representatives that partnering with New Visions provides access to a network of over 80 high schools -- one stop shopping, so to speak.”

“I am really impressed with the group of students that I spoke with today,” said Howard Alper, admissions representative from Brooklyn College. “They are really well-informed about the college application process and are definitely asking sophisticated questions.”

Guidance counselors like Richard Hogg at Collegiate Institute for Math and Science work one-on-one with students throughout the year to familiarize them with the ins and outs of the college process and to make sure they are aware of all their options, academically and financially.

“The main issue for my students is always the cost of college and knowing that they can get into college. Many of them don’t know that they are eligible for so many programs that can help them financially,” said Hogg. “It’s great that New Visions is able to bridge that knowledge gap for the students by creating opportunities for them to talk to admissions representatives and see that they really are college material.”

“Sometimes fairs like these are a lot to take in,” said Carla Ponce, a 12th grader from East Bronx Academy for the Future. “But, I’m really glad that I came because I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have learned on the school websites. Talking to the admissions reps gave me peace of mind and now I actually feel like I can get through this.”

The CECR team is planning another fair for the spring of 2014

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