High school students get a glimpse into the future

PROBE Fair fall 2019For half a day on Friday, September 6, 2019, Georgia State University’s Perimeter College campus in Decatur transformed into a hub for higher education, welcoming colleges and universities from across the country.

Western Carolina, University of Kentucky, University of Tampa, Miami, Fort Valley State, Georgia State, University of Tennessee, Reinhardt, Eastern Kentucky, Savannah State, Oglethorpe, Clayton State, University of Auburn, University of Illinois, Lincoln Memorial University, Alabama A&M, Emmanuel College, Columbia International University – these were just a few of many higher education institutes to take part in DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD) bi-annual Probe College Fair on September 6.

Students arrived via bus at Georgia State as early as 10 a.m. and did not leave until 2 p.m.

Students from every DCSD high school traveled to Georgia State University’s Perimeter College campus – located at 3251 Panthersville Road in Decatur – to obtain information on attending college. Students were exposed to grade requirements, tuition, campus life and more courtesy of college and university representatives.

Exposure, according to district experts, is what the Probe College Fair is all about.

“We currently have more than 130 schools speaking with our seniors,” said DCSD Post-Secondary Transition Specialist Brandi Beavers. “The most important thing about our college fairs is getting our students exposed to options. Some students just don’t know what’s out there.”

According to DCSD Counseling Coordinator Dr. Shannon Crosslin, it’s never too early to weigh options about your future.

“It’s September, but as we tell our students and parents, October is coming fast; in the state of Georgia October is a big application deadline for colleges. This may be a senior’s last chance to check out colleges and get applications in,” Crosslin said.

Beavers and Crosslin say students use the college fair to gain a better understanding of what they need to focus on, how they need to improve certain grades, and what will be expected of them before completing an application. Students will sometimes change their school schedule, begin studying for the ACT or SAT, and even join extracurricular activities following conversations with college representatives.

PROBE Fair fall 2019The college fair also served as the debut for Naviance, an online one-stop shop for college, career, and military readiness new to the district. Naviance is a website where students can complete college applications and gain access to financial resources. Teachers can also complete college recommendations through Naviance, fast-tracking students to the next step in their life outside of high school.

District administrators like Beavers and Crosslin can even use Naviance to track student progress at colleges and universities. Beavers said Naviance also plays a pivotal role in exposure. It features short assessments to help gauge student interests and career preferences, ensuring applicants are steered in the right direction.

“With Naviance, they have exposure to even more colleges,” said Beavers. “So many kids come to me and ask me, ‘Where do I even look?’ That’s all in Naviance.”

Beavers and Crosslin said the biggest mistake seniors make is not examining all their options. This is doubly true for students with family members that are unfamiliar with the college entry process.

“Many students don’t know about deadlines and don’t meet deadlines,” said Crosslin. “When you’re in college, you have to. There’s no Mom and Dad to step in to pull strings and make things happen.”

DeKalb County School District hosts at least one Probe college fairs each semester. An entire year’s worth of work goes into contacting colleges, reserving space, and broadening horizons for DCSD students. For more information, visit www.gaprobe.org.