Rather than hold one large college fair for students, South Forsyth High School counselors decided to take a different approach this year.
On a recent Wednesday, the third of four mini-fairs about colleges and the military for all interested juniors and seniors was held at the school.
“The big college fairs are fun to go to, but they can be overwhelming for a lot of students,” said Sharon McWhorter, lead 11th and 12th grade counselor at South.
She and her fellow counselors wanted to give the students opportunities to have in-depth discussions with college and military representatives, so they decided to offer the mini-fairs during the students’ Instructional Focus, or IF, time period.
Counselor Edward Fernandez explained that IF is a 90-minute block every Wednesday. Students can use the time for a range of activities, including getting extra help for classes with which they struggle, studying and preparing for exams.
They can also attend the mini-college fairs, for which McWhorter said IF was the perfect fit.
“If you try to do something like this before or after school, transportation can be a problem or you’ll be conflicting with extracurricular activities,” she said. “This is great because we can embed it in the class day without taking any time away from class time.”
Assistant Principal Suzanne Korngold said counselors post a listing of which colleges are going to be there prior to the event.
Students can obtain a pass to attend or wait until they’re more interested in another fair. If they want, they can attend them all.
Representatives from a total of 10 colleges and military branches were on hand Wednesday.
Among them was Matthew Godfrey of Valdosta State University in south Georgia.
“For South Forsyth to do this during the school day is very advantageous for the students and us,” Godfrey said.
He said the smaller setting also helps.
“We get a lot higher quality of students because they’re more interested in the colleges that are here,” he said.
James Zapp with Piedmont College in northeast Georgia agreed.
“When you don’t have people lining up, it’s a lot easier to talk and actually answer serious questions they ask,” he said.
Junior Christian Kreitz had questions about college costs.
“I mostly wanted to find out about how they compared,” he said. “I found out about a lot of scholarships and got a lot of pamphlets.”
He said he was most impressed with the University of Alabama, due to the school’s levels of financial aid.
“They have really, really good scholarships and a lot of them aren’t that hard to obtain,” Kreitz said.
Other students who attended Wednesday said they were most interested in learning about the schools’ various academic programs.
“I want to go into marketing, so I wanted to see what colleges offered that,” said junior Dheby Godswill.
Added friend Sami Frankel, also a junior: “I wanted to see what colleges around Georgia best fit my interests.”
Fernandez said the last of the mini-fairs for this school year will be held March 14. Another six are being planned for the fall 2012 semester.
“Not only are these good for the students, but they also build strong connections between the college reps and our school,” he said.
“It’s a win-win for everybody.”