Zeb Willer checked out the North Dakota State University table at the Regional College Fair on Sept. 18 at Jamestown High School. He’s pretty sure that’s where he’ll attend college after graduating.
“I talked to them and got a little bit more information to know about the school and everything,” he said. The JHS senior said he also stopped at the University of Jamestown table, because that’s still an option for him, too.
“It was good to get more information and check out all the different places to know if there’s any other options out there,” he said of the college fair.
Willer was one of about 500 students from six area schools who got a closer look at schools or other options available at the Regional College Fair. Besides JHS, students came from Gackle-Streeter, Pingree, Medina, Montpelier and Edgeley schools.
Teagan Skunberg, who is employed in the admissions office at the University of Jamestown, served as site coordinator for the college fair, which was conducted by the Dakota Association for College Admission Counseling-North Dakota.
“Mostly juniors and seniors but freshmen and sophomores are welcome to come too,” Skunberg said, referring to who the college fair is targeted to.
The Regional College Fair brings options to students in one setting.
“It’s so hard for students to stay in their school and get exposed to all of these options,” said Alyson Leas, president of DACAC-ND. “We have 43 institutions and military branches here (at the college fair) today.”
The Regional College Fair gives students a chance to see more options in a short period of time, she said. That’s helpful for students who come from smaller schools who may not see many school representatives in their own school setting.
“Whereas here these students from small towns who might get overlooked can come here and get 43 options at the tips of their fingers,” Leas said.
DACAC-ND is hosting 19 college fairs over two weeks, Leas said.
“DACAC-North Dakota is one of the only branches of college admissions counseling that allows military services and non-universities to their fairs,” she said, “because we understand that having plans after high school is important, but not every single person needs a college plan. …”
She noted there were options at the college fair that included the Army, General Equipment, Precision Inc. and Josef’s School of Hair Design.
“We want to offer that,” she said. “Because we understand that not every student that comes here is college or university bound, but every student that comes here needs to do something after high school.”
North Dakota has college fairs for two weeks, then South Dakota college fairs begin.
“It’s all about getting students information,” Leas said. “A lot of people think it’s a just hard-core recruiting event. But it’s just … we’re all here to make sure that students are getting information, fair information, and they’re getting 43 opportunities, and not just, ‘Oh, two schools happened to visit my school this year.”’
The college fairs just include information, not recruiting, Skunberg said. Items like water bottles, lanyards, etc., cannot be handed out to students.
Nic Thompson, an admissions rep and academic adviser at Northland Community and Technical College, has participated in the college fairs for 12 years in North Dakota.
“I think the main focus for the college reps that are here today is to help provide some direction for students because they might just be overwhelmed with the whole entire process,” he said. “It gives students an idea of what kind of schools are out there.”
He said students in their junior year need to start doing their homework on where they want to go and what they want to do for a living. He said college fairs like the one held at JHS are a good way to “kick-start” that process.
Erin Heide, admission counselor for the Office of Enrollment Services, Valley City State University, said the event is a good way for students to see options while saving on travel.
Jessica Aaseth, a school counselor at Medina Public School, said the event is worthwhile.
“I find it personally helpful because I learn about all these different colleges that are here as well,” she said. “But I think it’s really helpful for kids, especially those ones who are really undecided on what they want to do or where they want to go … it gives them an opportunity to talk to … a representative to get more information, learn about scholarships, costs and the degree programs.”
Twenty Medina juniors and seniors attended the college fair. Among them was Logan Reister, who is undecided about what he wants to do after he graduates.
“I’m kind of interested in a few different things,” he said.
He said the college fair was helpful.
"... It helps you figure out if you want to stick with something that you already like and think that you could do for your life," he said.