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Fair brings reality of college to students
1030 College Fair 1
University of Alabama representative Russell Moore offers information to a local high school student during the college fair Thursday at Bradwell Institute. - photo by Danielle Hipps

From Mercer orange to Voorhees blue, many institution’s colors were on display during the annual Probe College Fair on Thursday at Bradwell Institute.

During the event, students from Liberty County High School, Long County High School, First Presbyterian Christian Academy and Bradwell Institute gathered to seek information from more than 50 postsecondary institutions.

"You can’t beat having almost 50 or so schools in the same spot," Fort Stewart schools liaison Gregory Cooke said. "It’s something that is invaluable to every community it goes to."

The annual eight-week fall tour offered by the Georgia Education Articulation Committee usually stops at Fort Stewart, but it was moved off post this year to create easier access for civilians, Cooke said.

The event allows students to learn about postgraduation options through interaction, rather than visiting a website or reading a brochure, he said.

Bradwell Principal Scott Carrier added that the fair cuts down on school-seeking costs because it allows students to refine their focus without travel, saving them time and money to visit their top selections.

For smaller institutions, the tour offers increased visibility and engages students who may not otherwise seek out the schools.

"A lot of students and parents say that we’re a well-kept secret right now," Valdosta State University admissions counselor Melissa Decell said.

"It’s a very fulfilling feeling to see the students light up when you tell them about certain programs," she added.

Decell answered questions about campus life and activities and explained admissions processes to prospective students.

The information is especially useful to those who are not from Georgia and may not be aware of the state’s postsecondary offerings.

Bradwell senior Samuel Brantley, who transferred from a Lake City, Fla., school last year, is among them.

"It’s very helpful," he said about the fair. "My school there didn’t have anything like this."

Brantley most likely will attend a college in Georgia for the in-state tuition rate, and the fair opened his eyes to many options, he said. The college recruiters and admissions personnel were very informative and provided insight to each school’s tuition rates, teacher-to-student ratios and surroundings.

"I’d like to be known by name," he said.

While Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Georgia State University are among his top picks, Brantley’s mother has been encouraging him to explore all options, he said.

"She’ll probably say to apply to every college I got information from," Brantley said.

At first, he was concerned about how his SAT scores and academic record might affect his applications, but some of the recruiters soothed his fears, he added.

"This is when reality really sets in, because they find a school they really want to go to, then they see the admissions criteria and begin to worry about their scores," guidance counselor Torri Jackson said. Often, students’ questions about college become more serious and specific after the fair, she said.

"This just goes along with our culture of college and career readiness," Jackson said, adding that it is especially important to engage juniors in discussions about college so they prepare sooner.

Jackson hopes that students will take time looking into the colleges and programs that peaked their interest during the fair and will put it to use during the school’s upcoming Georgia Apply to College Day on Nov. 15.

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