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Students prepare for college

Kamari Clarke walked through the display tables with his sister, Jada Bryant. Each table arranged at King’s Fork High School on Monday night featured a different college representative, each with their own pitch for why their school could be ideal for Clarke, Bryant or any of the other students that evening.

Like many others, Clarke faces a tough decision.

“There’s just so many choices,” he said.

More than 70 different schools were represented at Suffolk’s City-Wide College Night, and approximately 130 students took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about admission requirements, tuition costs, academic majors, financial aid, and the various aspects of student life at each school.

King’s Fork High School counselor Renea Coley and her team organized schools from across the country, ranging from technical schools and community colleges to traditional four-year universities. Coley said the college application process is about turning students into the best possible candidates.

“It all depends on the school that they are applying to and their requirements,” Coley said. “It’s about making sure the students’ transcripts fit those requirements, and that starts as early as ninth grade, if not eighth.”

SAT and ACT scores are judged based on each school’s system for composite scores. GPAs can also be weighted more favorably for students if they have more Advanced Placement and other challenging courses on their transcripts.

“We encourage students to take challenging courses so they can get used to the rigor that they’ll face in college,” Coley said.

Clarke, a senior at Nansemond River High School, said he’s looking at schools with strong cyber-security programs. He’s taken cyber-security classes at the College and Career Academy at Pruden in preparation.

Bryant, on the other hand, said she’s considering schools like Old Dominion University, Hampton University and Baylor University to major in physical training and minor in childhood education. The NRHS sophomore plans to take early childhood education courses at Pruden to ensure she’s making the right choice.

“Helping them prepare throughout their four years of high school is sometimes difficult,” said their father, Shawn Clarke. “Kids don’t always want to do what’s best for themselves. It’s balancing their wants with what they need to remain competitive.”

Sports and team-building clubs help students prepare as well, Coley said.

“The extracurriculars are just as important as the academics in making them well-rounded students,” Coley said.

Dejuan Green, a 17-year-old KFHS senior, plays the saxophone for the school marching band. Green said he plans to apply to schools that have strong IT programs, a process that’s been tedious with essays and dissecting information.

He plans to sign up for the marching band at whichever school ends up being his ideal fit.

“I just want an ideal environment where I can get my education,” he said.