‘Tis the season for college applications, personal essays and financial aid forms as the Class of 2021 looks ahead to life after high school graduation. To support this process, JSerra Catholic High School hosted its 10th annual College Fair, a time for students to connect with university representatives and explore their future paths.
As with most large-scale events during Covid-19, JSerra moved this year’s college fair to a virtual format in an effort to not only support families in the midst of the college admissions process, but to provide a bit of normalcy during a very uncertain time.
“Even when we knew we were going to be online for part of the school year…we never considered not doing the college fair,” says JSerra principal, Eric Stroupe. “That’s an integral part of helping our students prepare for college.”
Open to the public, the virtual event was held on Oct. 15, and saw approximately 800 students and their families from JSerra and across the Orange County community connect with more than 250 national and international colleges and universities.
Many of the schools represented were well-known institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, UCLA and Vanderbilt University. But the event also provided the opportunity to connect with other lesser-known colleges that may not have been on students’ radar.
“We’re trying to drive students and parents to schools they might not have heard of through a presentation that they are interested in so they can really have an open mind about different colleges,” says JSerra Director of College Counseling Olivia Huie. “There could be some hidden gems that they would not otherwise visit.”
Additionally, the fair offered access to a number of college informational workshops on topics developed by JSerra seniors, including financial aid, how to build a college list and opportunities for B students, just to name a few. Registrants were sent links to all the college representatives, as well as the workshops, and could select the sessions and schools that interested them the most.
JSerra senior Reagan Wagner has been attending the JSerra College Fair since she was a freshman and chose to participate this year as a way to meet with admissions counselors and learn more about the schools on her college list.
“It was extremely helpful,” says Wagner. “I think it was a great opportunity because anybody, at all the different levels, could get as little or as much information as they wanted. It was a little different obviously than the in-person (event), but it was actually extremely helpful to be able to still see the representatives faces and have them see your face.”
Oskar Muniz, also a senior at JSerra and a member of the school’s Law Magnet program, connected with eight colleges during the fair and received more details on each school’s application process, pre-law program and student life.
“It did bring a lot more clarity because they also gave us reminders about deadlines,” says Muniz. “It’s always good to have a reminder of when to turn in those applications.”
Both Wagner and Muniz commented on the ease of connection during event and were grateful for the opportunity. Despite the current pandemic, and with most college campuses closed for traditional tours, JSerra is doing all they can support the senior class during a year that is likely nothing like they envisioned.
“This is another way in which we can provide something that is ‘normal,’” says Stroupe. “Any opportunity to provide something normal that we can do for all of our students, but particularly our seniors, is something we’re going to do.”