STEUBENVILLE - Approximately 900 seniors from 13 area high schools filled the hallways at Eastern Gateway Community College with questions for colleges, universities, technical institutes and the Marine Corps during the 14th-annual College Fest held Tuesday.
And representatives from 70 schools and military recruiters were ready with answers, information packets and, in some cases, school decals as the high school students got a real taste of college.
Johnna Provenzano of EGCC said the day provided "a very unique opportunity for high school students to start thinking about college."
TALKING COLLEGE — Susie Weiss, an admissions counselor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, discussed what the university has to offer to Isaac Foldi, an Indian Creek High School senior, Tuesday during College Fest at Eastern Gateway Community College. -- Dave Gossett
"This may be the first time some of these students have stepped onto a college campus. And we want to encourage these students to start thinking in terms of where they may want to attend school after high school. We bring all of these different colleges and universities to our campus to make it easier for the high school students to look at different schools and consider their options," explained Provenzano.
"We give the seniors a chance to learn more about different schools, provide them lunch and a DJ to entertain them. This is a good chance for these students to get a feel for the different schools after high school and to have some fun while they are here," Provenzano said.
"You might have questions you want to ask. Be sure to ask all of those questions," advised Marlana Haynes Featner of the EGCC admissions office.
Isaac Foldi of Indian Creek High School had several questions for Susie Weiss, an admissions counselor from Franciscan University of Steubenville.
"I have been accepted under the commuter grant program at Franciscan. I had some questions about the pre-medicine program there. From everyone I have talked to, Franciscan has high standards. And it sounds like a good fit for me. But I will also be talking to Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh and the North East Ohio Medical University," said Foldi.
Weiss said the College Fest gave her an opportunity to explain the commuter grant to prospective students like Foldi.
"I also talk to the students about setting up a visit to our campus. This is a chance to meet area high school students and talk to them about Franciscan," noted Weiss.
Cameron Betz of Wellsville was busy filling out a card at the EGCC table in the quiet lounge that was filled with school representatives and inquisitive students.
"If I can maintain a 2.7 grade-point average, I can take classes for free and that sounds interesting. I also have a cousin who goes here now who said this is a good school. It sounds like it might be the right fit for me," noted Betz.
Sherrilyn Farkas VanTassel, vice president of administrative services at EGCC, was busy answering questions from the high school seniors roaming the college hallways.
"You hear so much about the lack of interest in higher education. But I see a lot of interest here today. I see kids who need a little mentoring and motivation. It is encouraging to see so many of our youth interested in furthering their education. It leads me to believe in our future," said VanTassel.
Aleeshea Viers and Brandi Otis from Steubenville High School waited in line to talk to Betsy Kinkela of the Salon Schools Group of Columbus.
"I am seriously considering a career in cosmetology," said Otis.
Viers said she was looking at cosmetology as well as schools offering majors in physical therapy.
Elijah Merkel and Keenan Scott from the Jefferson County Christian School both plan to join the Marine Corps after they graduate next spring.
"But after the Marines I am considering either Ohio University or Ohio State University for their physical therapy or nutrition (programs)," Merkel said.
Madonna High School seniors Katie Kramer and James Fulciniti weaved their way through the crowded hallways looking for different colleges and universities.
"There are a lot of schools here I had never heard of before, so that is kind of neat," observed Fulciniti.
"I am interested in majoring in occupational therapy, so I am looking to talk to the representatives from Youngstown State University and West Liberty University," said Kramer.
Instructors from EGCC also offered session topics that included a course selection at the college from accounting to dental assisting and practical nursing to the lineman classes and power plant courses.
"I think today was very important for all of these students. To have so many colleges all together in one location is very exciting and convenient for the high school seniors," stated Andrew Connor, a social studies teacher at the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)