Sandwich resident Elyk Donelan walked through the college fair held in the gymnasium at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School on March 21 with his friend Genevieve Phillips and her grandmother, Barbara Barant of Wareham.
“I came to see everything,” said Mr. Donelan, who will attend Upper Cape Tech next year.
“This is a great crowd,” school counselor Jennifer J. McGuire said as she watched students—many accompanied by parents, guardians, and grandparents—work the room, talking intensely with representatives of colleges and military organizations from all over New England.
“There are definitely lots of students here who are not ours,” she said.
Upper Cape Tech publicizes its spring college fair across the region via high school counselors, press releases, and social media, and through direct mail and word-of-mouth to its own students.
Ms. McGuire stresses that the fair is open to all students, no matter which high school they attend.
“The Cape and Islands School Counselors Association runs a college fair at Barnstable High School in the fall,” Ms. McGuire said, “but there is no big college fair but ours in the spring that brings over 70 colleges and universities—both public and private—and military organizations together in one location.”
Upper Cape Tech currently has 20 students taking the parent/guardian/child college-planning class. “The kids bring at least one parent or guardian, and we take them through the process of applying to colleges,” Ms. McGuire said.
The school also teaches its students to prepare for the college fair—for example, handing out labels for them to put their basic information on. Students can then hand the labels out to college representatives instead of writing the same information repeatedly onto forms.
Financial advisor Judy Conway, who runs her own mortgage company, donates her time at Upper Cape Tech.
Ms. Conway gives a presentation in the fall, talks to parents of seniors, and attends Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Day Massachusetts to offer help filling out the applications.
For the duration of the fair, the gymnasium was abuzz with conversations, questions, and information-gathering between students and the institutions of higher education or military organizations hoping to recruit them.
UCT graduate Sarah Eckstrom stood in front of a table with three college representatives facing her, asking questions about their institutions.
“I am looking to study radiology and nursing, which is funny, because I studied culinary arts when I was here,” she said as she moved on to the next table.
Before the fair started on Thursday evening, senior students had access to 21 schools whose representatives were accepting applications—and in some cases, issuing enrollment decisions—on the spot.
“Obviously, at a technical school, not all the kids are going to college,” Ms. McGuire said. “But for those who want to, we work hard so that our students know they have options.”