College Fair Offers Students One Stop Comparison Shopping

Camden Academy Charter High School students filling out information sheets at 15th Annual College Fair

CAMDEN, N.J. — High school students in Camden had the opportunity to visit with nearly two dozen colleges in a single afternoon on Thursday, October 17.

Camden Academy Charter High School sponsored its Fifteenth Annual College Fair that brought together colleges from as far away as St. Mary’s College of Maryland to next door neighbor Rutgers University–Camden.  

The College Fair offers a chance for ninth through twelfth grade students to not only hear what post-secondary opportunities are out there, but to learn more about the college application process itself.

It’s not just about selling a college said Lai Ara Powell, College of St. Elizabeth admissions counselor, about attending the fair.

“While my job is to recruit for my college, I care about empowering the students,” Powell said.  “I like to help students with their college admissions process needs. In the long run, I want to help them find the right fit.”

“One of the college recruitment officers told us that it doesn’t matter what college you go to,” senior Chamille Hinson said.  “Whether it’s a big, well known university, or a small college you never heard of, you can still be super successful.”

Hinson said that attending the college fair was useful.  “There were a lot of colleges that offered a variety of majors,” she said. “There was lots of choice.”

According to the College Board, students should be ready with a barrage of questions when speaking with a college recruiter such as:  What makes your college unique? What are the most popular majors? What’s the faculty like? How accessible are they outside of class?  Is there job placement help for graduates?

Camden Academy Charter High School students listen to New Jersey Institute of Technology recruiter.

Hinson was surprised by some of the answers she had received from the college recruiters.

“One school said they have 100% job placement.  It would be great to be guaranteed a job right out of college,” Hinson said.

Holding the fair at the school during the academic day offers many benefits according to Camden Academy Charter High School Principal Dara Ash.

“It’s better in school because the students are in a comfortable environment,” Ash said.  “It also does not take away from their academics and gives them all the time they need to talk to as many recruiters as they need to.”

Camden Academy Charter High School College Admissions Counselor Kyra O’Brien agreed that it was better to hold a college fair at their school rather than bus students elsewhere.

“College and university admission reps love the opportunity to meet with Camden Academy students in our building,” O’Brien said.  “Seeing the entire student body over a span of a few hours really provides a great sense of what our school is about.”

O’Brien also said how college fairs like these are quite practical.

“The fair allows students to speak with representatives from a number of colleges in a short span of time,” O’Brien said.  “This allows students to compare aspects of the different colleges and narrow down their preferences without even leaving the high school building.”

Camden Academy Charter High School senior Ashley Rubio (center) mentoring visiting 8th grade students.

CACHS senior Taaliyah Melton said having so many colleges in one place was a great way to compare schools.

“As a senior, I will be going to college really soon,” Melton said.  “So I hit each college to see what they had to offer.” The future nursing major said that her priorities in choosing a college include tuition costs and teacher to student ratios.

Camden Academy Charter High School also hosted the 8th grade students from sister school Camden’s Promise Charter School who met up with 12th grade mentors to talk about college, walk them through the College Fair, and have lunch.

“Some of the 8th graders didn’t want to leave,” Ash said.  “They were excited to be in the high school and make connections with the seniors.  It’s a good start to exposing the 8th grade students to high school life.”

Other colleges and universities in attendance at the College Fair were Bloomfield College, Caldwell College, Centenary University, Chestnut Hill College, Dickinson College, Felician University, Kean University, Kutztown University, La Salle University, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pencon Tech, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rowan College of South Jersey, Sarah Lawrene College, St. Ptere’s University, Stockton University, Temple University, Ursinus University, William Paterson University, Georgian Court University, and Camden County College.