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Students gain awareness of options during college fair

GIPS images

“Have you ever heard of NCTA?”

Juliana Kroeger asked the question many times Monday afternoon in the Grand Island Senior High West Gym. She typically received a polite head shake or simple “no” in return.

“We’re the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture,” she would tell the students before asking leading questions about what the students were interested in and sparking a conversation.

NCTA was one of 48 booths of colleges, military branches and educational services students were introduced to at a GISH college fair organized by the Nebraska Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Students from GISH were joined by students from other area schools.

“This has been good to get exposure,” Kroeger said.

NCTA is newer branch of the University of Nebraska system, she said, so it was good for her to speak with students of all ages.

GISH students talk with Juliana Kroeger from NCTA.

“Even the younger students, they are pushed to see opportunities they may not have known about otherwise,” Kroeger said. “Maybe they don’t know what they want to do yet, but they take a NCTA magazine and mom and dad see it and it starts a conversation.”

GISH executive principal Jeff Gilbertson was excited about the parents who were involved at the college fair, saying he thought the number of parents in attendance had “tripled from last year.”

“I’m pleased with engagement parents have had - as well as students - with the reps from the colleges,” Gilbertson said. “The upper class students have really engaged.”

The college fair fits within the school goals outlined by the GIPS graduate profile, a document laying out the expectations of every GISH graduate.

“This is an experience we want them to have,” Gilbertson said. “Not every student pictures themself going to college, sometimes because they aren’t introduced to experiences like today. We are creating awareness for all of our students.”

Students line up to talk with a representative of UNL.

One of the partners for the event is EducationQuest, a private non-profit with the goal of helping provide free college planning services. Jodi Vanden Berge represented EducationQuest at Monday’s college fair. She agreed with Gilbertson on the benefit.

“All kids don't have a chance to visit campuses,” she said. “This is a good way to talk to many colleges at once. It's been good. Most of the students have been pretty proactive and serious about talking to colleges.”

Typically, college fairs are for juniors and seniors, but in year two of this event being on a school day at GISH, it is now something all GISH students attend.

“It is a good experience to open doors for younger kids,” Vanden Berge said.

GISH sophomore Amnesty Kelley is planning to go to college, she knows what she wants to go into and where she wants to do it.

“I’m going to go to Wayne State to study forensic sciences,” Kelley said.

The college fair was an opportunity to talk with the school representative and get answers on a few questions.

“They told us they have law enforcement stuff, and specific courses I want to go into,” she said. “Some of the others said they didn’t have the right classes. With some of them, I didn't know the specific area you could go into, so that was good to know.”

As far as the reps were concerned, it was a success.

“I really like the way it is set up and you get to talk to so many students,” Kroeger said, after explaining to another student where NCTA is located. “They ask really good questions and we have the opportunity to answer them.”

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