50 colleges vie for students at college fair

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Devon Jackson, a Dowagiac High School senior, visited Niles High School's gym on Wednesday night.
But, he didn't do so to watch or play basketball.
And, he wasn't alone.
Accompanied by Turina, his mother, Jackson was only one among many Berrien County high school seniors who visited the annual College Fair.
The fair is sponsored by Southwestern Michigan College, and hosted by Niles High School.
This year, representatives from 50 Midwest universities, the Air Force and the Army were represented, providing valuable information about the many career options students have.
Jackson, who runs track at school, said having representatives from many different institutions gathered in one place at the same time also makes it less intimidating to make contact with the different schools.
Although college fairs are an easy way for students to find information about career options, they are also one of the avenues through which schools market themselves.
Bart Harvey is an admission representative from St. Joseph College, located in Rensselaer, Ind.
The college is a private, catholic, liberal arts college with roughly 1,000 students.
Unlike the larger universities, many of whom had two representatives at their stand, Harvey was alone behind his desk.
Harvey thinks the college fairs are important, and expose students to a wide variety of options.
He considered 10 to 12 students showing an interest in his college during Wednesday's fair as a good evening.
Tracie Davis, Southwestern Michigan College's marketing director, said most students who attend fairs these days seem well informed.
Davis said students often have the same questions, often related to tuition fees, and whether the school has the program the students are looking for.
Davis, however, has seen lately that students are often accompanied by their parents when attending college fairs.
One of the reasons, she thinks, is that families are working more as teams today.
Another reason, she said, is that parents are typically the ones who end up footing the bill for their childrens' education and therefore want to see for themselves what options are available.
Ted Potts, one of three Niles High school counsellors who helped organize Wednesday's fair, was pleased with the turnout on Wednesday.
Standing by the gym entrance a little after 6:30 p.m. -- the fair started at 6:30 p.m. -- Potts said: "It's a good turnout, we are off to a better start than we were last year."

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