New Visions College Fair Helps Students Piece Together the Puzzle

“What majors does your school offer?” “What is campus life like?" "What percentage of students receive financial aid?"

These are just a sampling of the questions overhead on April 30, as eager students navigated the Baruch College gymnasium for an opportunity to chat with admissions representatives and alumni from 54 colleges and universities participating at the 2015 New Visions Spring College Fair.  The event, tailored for 1,000+ rising seniors, offered each student the opportunity to explore a variety of colleges and universities.  As students approached each admissions table, representatives provided them with a number of resources, including academic brochures, details about information sessions and giveaways.

Julian Hemming, a junior at Bronx School of Law and Finance who aspires to attend Harvard, listed off a string of questions -- “What makes you unique? What do you provide that gives me the best opportunity so I can find a job afterward?” Julian was not the exception in this room, as many of the students approached admissions officers with thought-provoking questions. But he credited his school for preparing him for the fair —from navigating financial aid, to finding “the best fit”—and equipping him with the skills necessary for success during the college application process.

This college fair is just one component of the support that the community engagement and college readiness (CECR) team at New Visions provides for 80+ New York City public high schools to strengthen learning opportunities and counselor support towards post-secondary education. From college campus visits and financial aid assistance to professional development for guidance counselors, the  CECR team works to ensure that students have access to colleges and universities that are aligned with their skills, academic histories and future plans.

“Exposure is really important for the students,” said Hewette Moore, CECR program coordinator. “We aim to show them that all schools have unique offerings that cater to the specific needs of every student.” 

To expose the wide variety of schools students can choose from, the CECR team ensures that a range of colleges and universities, from two-year community schools and  four-year institutions, to Ivy Leagues and HBCUs are present at the fair, each year. This strategy is based on the team’s philosophy that it is not just about getting into the right college, but making sure that whichever college students attend will provide them with access to the support necessary for success beyond graduation.

Josh Javer, a guidance counselor from Pelham Prep Academy in the Bronx, summed up the sentiment of why in-person fairs like these are still critical in the digital age. “It gives our kids an opportunity to see a mass number of schools at once. The Internet is great, visiting the campus is great, but a lot of that logistically doesn’t always work, so here you have an opportunity to speak to another human being and get more information and sign up for a list and ask questions you might not be able to in another setting.” 

While the New Visions fair is just one step in the decision making process, it is a critical piece of the puzzle in finding the right college.  Not only does it expose students to postsecondary institutions, it gives them the opportunity to make connections with admissions representatives that last throughout the application and selection process.  With this in mind, it is the strategic goal of the CECR team to help all students find the ideal college for their future; one that meets their needs academically, socially and most importantly, holistically.

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