Students explore options at College Fair

Courtney Cyr, Associate Dean of Hofstra University, engages with students about their future college endeavors.

Katie Walsh and Helena Trofa

More than 200 colleges were represented at the 2016 Danbury College and Vocational fair Monday at the Danbury Fair Mall, giving high school students an opportunity to explore college options.

Colleges that had set up booths ranged from as far as San Francisco and Tampa to the college right around the corner, Western Connecticut State University.  

The fair was swarmed with students, including those from DHS, preparing for their future by gathering information about colleges they are interested in attending.

Joseph Natale, a college admissions official from Penn State, said it was important for students to visit college fairs because they can “explore options, find opportunities” and discover the colleges that “fit them because not every college is for every student.”

Manhattanville’s Lauren Caputo deems its critical for students to attend informational events because it allows students to get a glimpse of each school and learn about college majors.

Senior Cameron Coe had never attended a college fair before, but found it especially helpful for the colleges he couldn’t visit.

“The critical aspects I look for in a college is the sports management program, the opportunities for internships and job placements,” said Coe, who works for the local hockey team, Danbury Titans.

Meanwhile, junior Ana Rodriguez has attended the college fair for the past three years and said, “it’s important because it can help you decide what you want to do in life,” and give you an idea of “where you want to be located.”  

It’s never too early to start looking at colleges, Natale of Penn State said that students should start around 7th or 8th grade; however, the summer between 9th and 10th grade is when the full investment should begin.

Caputo of Manhattanville suggests starting the process in earnest early junior year and visiting colleges in the spring.

Colleges require a resume that consists of more than just excellent grades. Courtney Cyr, of Hofstra University, suggests you have “something that makes you stand out opposed to just the numbers on your application.”

Danbury High alum Annie Smierciak, who now attends Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, was at the fair to help recruit. She advised that it’s always important to explore colleges that fit your personality.

She also advised to “find small colleges that are located next to a more populous university.” Smierciak’s school is near Notre Dame University, where her brother and sister attended.

Finding the right college isn’t as hard as a student might think. Cyr said that all a student needs to write an outstanding admissions essay is to write about what is important to you and what makes your heart beat faster. Colleges are so excited to meet and accept new students, applying does not always have to be stressful.

“There’s not this huge barrier to get in a college,” she said. “You just have to find the right fit.”

Editor’s note: Staff Writer Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.