The process of planning for college can be an overwhelming experience for high school students. From taking the SAT to deciding where to apply, many students are left feeling overworked.
In fact, many juniors are still unsure when it comes to choosing their priority schools. Alexis Rivas, Div. 070, knows she wants to go out-of-state for college, but doesn’t know where to start looking.
When Rivas heard about the first college fair that Lane hosted this year, on Jan. 8, she felt that she needed to go.
“I went because I wasn’t really sure where to start looking for colleges. It’s one thing to start looking online but I felt more assured in the journey by visiting the college fair booths and asking questions in person,” Rivas said.
This year, Lane’s counselors, Ms. Constantine and Ms. Bantz, are organizing Lane’s 45th annual college night.
The process of organizing the college fair is very precise, so Constantine and Bantz can form the list of the colleges visiting on college night.
The list has grown to include over 150 colleges scheduled to visit on college night, March 28.
This is Ms. Constantine’s seventh year as a counselor at Lane.
“The most important part is reaching out to all of the different college reps, so that we can ensure that they will be there,” Ms. Constantine said. “We usually don’t have trouble convincing them to come to Lane because they know our school, how great of a school we are, and how great our students are.”
Ms. Bantz is in her twelfth year as a counselor and fifth year as a department head. Bantz said that although the college fair is very important to attend, the atmosphere of the college fair can be stressful at times.
“The college fair can be a little overwhelming because there are so many options. You may feel like you won’t be getting a lot of information,” Ms. Bantz said.
As a solution to this, Ms. Bantz recommends prioritizing schools that you want to see first and then move on to schools that you never considered before.
“Make it more valuable by looking on the College and Career Center website, and looking up what colleges are currently coming,” Ms. Bantz said. “Then, highlight the schools you would want to meet with, and go to those schools first. Then, you can wander.”
Ms. Bantz acknowledged that despite all of the possible colleges in Chicago a student could attend, she believes that students should still have an interest in out-of-state schools, and even international schools.
“I think it is a really good opportunity for students to see just the mere number of schools that exist and all of the different types of schools to choose from,” Ms. Bantz said. “A lot of times growing up in Chicago, it is so easy to put up blinders to other schools or international schools because we have such good schools here.”
By attending a college fair, you are opening yourself up to a whole new experience because you are able to discover colleges that you may have never even heard about before, according to Bantz..
On college night, students are pleasantly surprised when they’ve encountered a new school and are motivated to research about it more because of the representative’s and booth’s presence at the college fair.
“A lot of the time, kids tell me that at the college fair they found a school they have never heard of and now they want to get more information about it,” said Ms. Bantz.
Ms. Constantine recalled that when she was applying to colleges, she wished she had the opportunity to attend a college fair.
“When I was going through the process, I didn’t do as much research than I should have. I was like, ‘sure I’ll apply to U of I’ and ‘sure I’ll go there,’” Ms. Constantine said. “Now that I am a counselor, and I see all these wonderful schools and opportunities students get, I wish that I took more advantage of that stuff.”
After Rivas attended the college fair and reflected on her experience, she realized that attending the fair was a good decision and that it had a positive impact on her after all.
“I think it can affect your decision because when you start asking them questions and you’re getting the answers you really needed to know, it’s especially helpful,” Rivas said. “The representatives have personal experiences with the college and they are able to tell you more about it that you cannot find online.”