Students informed at College Night

Published 9:03 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Roughly 200 high school students — many with parents and some with siblings — stopped by Nansemond River High School on Monday evening to get some answers at the annual City-Wide College Night.

There were representatives from more than 60 universities, trade schools and branches of military in the high school cafeteria taking questions, according to guidance director M.L. Cruey. Families walked from table to table to find out more about admission requirements, tuition costs, programs of study, financial aid and college life.

Suffolk high schools rotate hosting the event to share opportunities that fit the many different personalities and goals within the student body, right when application season heats up in the fall, Cruey said.

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“It’s just a great, central location where parents and students can talk to representatives from all over the country,” she said.

The event is catered to juniors and seniors, but there was also a fair number of underclassmen getting a head start on the search, like Jordan Barber, 15, a sophomore at Nansemond River looking for a liberal arts school that combines her interest in history with a strong medical program.

“It’s very stressful at the moment,” Barber said. “There’s a lot of things I want to check out and experience, but there’s just not enough time to do it.”

King’s Fork High School sophomore Mikaela Livingston, 15, said she wants to be a lawyer and was looking through all of the available material Monday evening with her mother, Lakisha Hampton.

“She’s just nervous and excited all at the same time,” Hampton said about her daughter.

It’s a nerve-racking ordeal that’s different for each upcoming graduate, but there are a few key lessons from the representatives that apply to most students.

Jared Mays, an admissions counselor for Old Dominion University, stressed how important it is to stay ahead of scholarship and application deadlines. Each school’s schedule differs, and it’s up to the students to keep track.

It’s also incredibly important for the students to visit each school that they may be considering to get a feel for each campus before making a final call, Mays said.

“It’s the deciding factor for a lot of individuals and a crucial piece in deciding where they want to go to,” he said.

These soon-to-be high school graduates don’t have to commit to a four-year institution, either. There are plenty of trade schools for those that are interested in specialized career training.

Many of these programs are done in less than half the time of four-year colleges and lead directly to well-paid occupations, according to Dan Mittendorff, admissions presenter for the Advanced Technology Institute.

“It’s a really good return on investment,” he said.

Above all else, the choice needs to be made by the students themselves, and that starts with the teens leading the way.

“My biggest advice for parents is to support your child, but also to let your child come and take ownership of this process,” said Tiffany Woolley, senior assistant director of admissions for James Madison University. “If they pick up the information, then they can process everything at their own pace and in their homes where they are comfortable, then visit campuses and narrow down to the schools that meet their needs.”