About 500 high school students and nearly 90 college and military representatives convened Monday in Jefferson Community Colleges McVean Center gymnasium with two goals: to get students thinking about their future and make the admissions process less intimidating.
JCC held its annual Higher Education Day, sponsored by the college and the Jefferson-Lewis Association for Counseling and Development, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
The day program is focused on students from nearly 10 high schools throughout Jefferson and Lewis counties. The evening program gives parents an opportunity to talk to college representatives.
It gives our students an opportunity to network with colleges and universities in one event, said one of the organizers, Sackets Harbor Central School guidance counselor Ryan F. Tastor. When they have that face-to-face conversation, they might have a connection with the admissions representative.
Some students had more luck than others. Watertown High School senior Britnie T. Ramos said the experience was overwhelming, but she had an opportunity to speak to representatives from the U.S. Air Force. She had a few pamphlets and a baseball hat with the military branchs logo emblazoned on the front.
I kind of wished the colleges would be from other places, she said.
Miss Ramos said she would like to go to an out-of-state college and wants to travel abroad. As a member of the First in the Family program at her school, she is worried she might not have enough money to attend the college of her dreams.
The Air Force might just be my best bet, she said.
Most of the colleges were chosen because of their proximity, but colleges as far away as Alaska Pacific University also sent representatives. The event was also an opportunity for students to learn about schools they might have never considered before.
One of these colleges is SUNY Maritime College, a technical school in the Bronx. The colleges representative, Breanna M. Stroud, said she talked to about 10 students at the event.
Most of the students havent heard of us before, she said.
Most students asked about the location of the college and what majors are offered.
Sackets Harbor junior Libby B. Branski said she hopes to attend the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., as a nursing major. However, she and her friend Taylor E. Queior, also a Sackets Harbor junior, found a host of suitable backups, including St. John Fisher College, Rochester.
Ive been asking about cost, Miss Queior said. Size doesnt matter to me, because I went to General Brown before I came to Sackets, and Libby went to Carthage before she came to Sackets.
Other students want a school with well-regarded sports teams. Thousand Islands junior Morgan Earp said his dream school, University of Georgia, was not at the event, but he talked to representatives of Syracuse University and SUNY Brockport.
Even with social media, you still cant replace that face-to-face connection, Mr. Tastor said. Theres just that connection that cant be formed any other way.