College Night comes to Lakeland

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hundreds of students and parents turned out Monday to learn more about post-high school options available to them as part of the Virginia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers’ College Night at Lakeland High School.

Most of the schools represented were from Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, but there were admissions officials from the University of Alabama and the University of Florida also in attendance.

Lakeland junior Michela Brown, 16, said she is looking to study biology and play field hockey in college. She was with her mother, Crystal Brown, while they listened to an admissions representative from Barton College in Wilson, N.C., tell them about the school.

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Michela Brown said she is looking for a school that is small, but not too small, with the opportunity to meet different people at a school away from home, but close enough to easily return.

“It’s just really opening up my eyes to see new things, since I already have my mind set on where I want to go,” Michela Brown said.

Crystal Brown said she follows her daughter’s lead in the college search. She’s visited a few schools already, including Howard University, Hampton University, Chowan University, James Madison University, University of Maryland—Eastern Shore and Old Dominion University, and she plans to visit more in November.

“We’re just starting the process of looking into what’s out there and what’s available,” Crystal Brown said. “We know right here in Hampton Roads, but we want to see what else will pique her interest, just seeing what else is beyond Hampton Roads.”

Still, the process is a daunting one.

“It’s a little overwhelming, because I want to be away from home and meet new people,” Michela Brown said. “Most of the time I try to stay to myself, so it’s going to be a little overwhelming.”

Another Lakeland student, senior John Wade Simpson, 17, also visited with representatives from different schools. Interested in e-sports, he is also looking for schools that will take sign language as a foreign language, and ones that have game design, graphic design or computer science as a major or minor.

“So far, I’m learning that a lot of different schools are starting to accept e-sports, like gaming, as a sport now, for scholarships,” John Wade Simpson said. “It’s nice to see that because there’s so many people out there that do gaming, but they don’t really get a lot for it.”

His mother, Kim Simpson, joked that she didn’t know his gaming hobby was something he could study in college.

“I have learned here tonight that gaming really is a career, and I haven’t just sat here and watched him play games for nothing,” Kim Simpson said.

Smithfield High School freshman Hayden Cratsley, 14, was getting an early start on his college search, thanks to a gentle push from his mother, Forest Glen Middle School teacher Lori Cratsley. He’s looking to potentially study engineering and was curious to know what kind of grades and extracurricular activities he would need to enter college.

“I came out to think about different potential colleges and things,” Hayden Cratsley said.

He said he has time to think about it, so he was not fazed by the process.

“Not much stress now,” Hayden Cratsley said.

His mother, on the other hand?

“Well, I think he needs to start thinking about it earlier, so he can start planning on what he needs to do each year to help him to, once he gets to be a senior, he’ll have some things in place to help him,” Lori Cratsley said after they had finished speaking with an admissions representative from Virginia Tech. “Not that he has to make any decisions now about anything, but I want him to be aware of what the colleges are looking for and then what kind of colleges and different areas that he might be interested in.”

Also along the college path, Suffolk Public Schools will hold a College and Career Readiness Fair for middle and high school students and their parents and guardians from 8 a.m. until noon Nov. 16, with registration for the event beginning at 7:30 a.m.

That event, co-sponsored by the Suffolk Education Foundation, will feature representatives from colleges, the business community, career programs and the Armed Forces, and there will be workshops on paying for college, creating a high school path, planning for college and careers and test-taking tips for the PSAT, SAT and ACT.