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College Night 2011 to be held Sept. 21 at Harborside

By Staff | Sep 5, 2011

Approximately 100 national representatives from colleges, universities, art and culinary institutes, as well as military academies will fill Harborside Event Center for all of the juniors and seniors in the Lee County School District on Sept. 21 for College Night 2011.

The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. Students will receive a free tote bag once they walk through the doors, so they have a place to store all of the literature they will receive that night.

Although the Florida private and public universities will be well represented during the event, students will also have the opportunity to meet with representatives from colleges in other states as well.

Student Service Coordinator Lori Brooks said last year they had just about 100 schools participate in the event for approximately 5,000 students and parents who attended.

The event has been held for the last 10 to 12 years for students in the Lee County School District.

Mariner High School Career Specialist Tom Scheuermann said they have already put flyers up around the school about College Night, along with having announcements on television to inform them about the event.

He said College Night is a really good thing because students can go up to the representatives and talk to them and find out who they should call with additional questions.

“They have some contact person,” Scheuermann said. “That is what they prefer the most.”

He said the colleges usually send their admission representatives to College Night, so it gives seniors an opportunity to ask more questions.

Another benefit of College Night, Scheuermann said, is it is the next best thing for students who do not have the opportunity to make college visits.

Brooks said the district has received positive feedback from students and parents who attend because College Night offers a one-stop-shop for all those who attend.

“This gives the students a one-stop-shop overview approach where they can walk Harborside and obtain information from a lot of schools,” she said. “It cuts down on research and legwork they have to do.”

Although the event is beneficial for seniors, it is a great starting point for juniors to begin their college research, in addition to solidifying their choices of which colleges they want to apply to.

Brooks said it will give juniors a year to decide what colleges are at the top of their list, so they can begin applying over the summer and the beginning of their senior year.

She said for seniors, the event should not be their first exposure to colleges because they need to be getting their application out to colleges in the fall.

Scheuermann said their seniors already began applying for college the first week of school at Mariner High.

“I went into senior English the first day and told them to start rock ‘n’ rolling,” he said about sending out applications.

Scheuermann said seniors in Florida have an advantage when applying for college.

“Our guys can apply way before the northern students because school hasn’t started yet,” he said, adding that many of their students have already been accepted into college.

Brooks said when all of the college representatives roll into Fort Myers for the event they stay a few extra days, which provides high schools the opportunity to have them visit their school to talk further with the students.

“They are also contacting a lot of the high schools to set up a more personalized visit to each of the high schools,” Brooks said.

She said many of the colleges are cutting down on how many representatives are sent to high schools due to the gas and travel expenses so they utilize their time when they are in town for College Night.

“They will spend a couple extra days here,” Brooks said, which is “another benefit we see at our local high schools.”

Scheuermann said they will probably have between 20-25 college representatives come to Mariner High the week before and after College Night to talk to the students. He said they put the representatives and students in the auditorium for a presentation and question and answer session.

“They can ask a lot of questions,” Scheuermann said about the students.

The colleges also call Mariner High so they can make an appointment to visit the school to talk to students as well.

Counselors from each of the high schools in the district attend the event and assist students when needed every year.

The event would not be able to take place without the partnership the school district has with the city of Fort Myers.

Brooks said every year the city of Fort Myers provides them with a $7,500 grant to offset the major cost that are associated with the event. In addition, the college representatives have to pay a booth fee to participate, which also covers any additional expenses.

“We wouldn’t be able to afford to do this,” she said without the grant. “It has really been a blessing for the school district and the kids.”

Because of the grant, Brooks said there is absolutely no cost for the district to provide free services for the kids during College Night.

“It is an amazing event on a large scale size,” she said.