Students speak with local and national college representatives 

two girls hold instagram cutoutAthletics. Campus life. Tuition. Admission rates. Test score requirements. Student population.

These are just a few things considered by DeKalb County School District (DCSD) students during a recent trip to Georgia State University’s Perimeter Campus in Panthersville, as the DeKalb County college partnered with the district for its most recent PROBE College Fair on March 1, 2019.

Students from every DCSD high school were invited to participate in the event, which hosted representatives from such higher education institutes as Oglethorpe University, the University of Kentucky, Agnes Scott College, Ohio University, Mercer University, Florida International University, Paine College, Sweet Briar College, the University of Alabama, and more.

“We’re very excited—we’ve invited all DCSD high schools to attend,” said Shani Hall, DCSD post-secondary transition specialist. “We have a lot of great colleges here today who are always willing to come and share great information with our students. We’re hoping students absorb information about the college selection process and admission process.”

A representative from Hall’s own alma mater—Xavier University of Louisiana—attended the event to inform students about attending college in New Orleans. The school was one of 56 programs that attended the event, designed to educate students about options after high school.

According to Hall, the earlier students start considering options for college, the better. For that reason, the fair was designed with juniors in mind. Most students are used to waiting until their senior year to take college admission tests, apply, and consider financial aid.

In other words, a change to the narrative is much needed.

“When we start talking about getting ready for college, it really starts in ninth grade. We have some younger students attending today as well,” Hall said. “We really want students to become motivated and ready for the admissions process. We want students to consider colleges that are the best fit for them. We want juniors, especially, to start building their college lists now and thinking about what colleges they want to apply to.”

students stand at table as recruiter speaksFor Cross Keys High School sophomore students Rashma and Citlali, the fair helped to provide more information about colleges and universities already being considered. Their ideal college, they said, is one that fosters a good relationship between staff and students.

“I’m interested in Emory because I heard it has a really good medical program,” Rashma said. “I like colleges with majors that are accessible.”

“I’m not sure what I want to be yet,” Citlali said. “But we spoke to Berry College, Paine, and some others.”

Hall said many students in the past have not had the chance to attend college fairs and consider what options are available. For that reason, the Department of Student Advancement made sure the college fair was held during the school day with transportation provided.

The department also set up its own table to inform students about DCSD-provided resources as they pertain to higher education. One document provided was a list of questions to ask recruiters, which included such conversational topics as graduation rates, admission requirements, scholarships, campus life, offered majors, and more.

“Schools do their own college fairs, too, but I think it’s all about repetition,” Hall said. “If you say something over and over again, eventually, a light bulb goes on. We’re glad to host a districtwide college fair and really jumpstart the process.”