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College Fair coming to Island Coast

By Staff | Feb 26, 2016

It is one of the most important decisions a young person can make; which higher learning institution to attend.

Meanwhile, parents ask “How are we going to be able to afford this?”

On Wednesday, March 2, more than 75 colleges and career institutions from around the nation will gather in the Island Coast High School gymnasium from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the seventh-annual College Fair.

Students from all over Lee and Charlotte counties are invited to attend an event that will include public and private universities, technical colleges, culinary arts and design schools and branches of the military.

Nancy Hagy, Island Coast teacher and event coordinator, said the event has grown steadily over the years from its humble beginnings.

“We were a Title I school and were trying to get parents and students involved because had many students who said they couldn’t go to college,” Hagy said. “We tried to get colleges and technical schools who would help people out and tell them there’s scholarship money out there.”

Hagy got the military branches and beauty schools to come, as well as the local and tech colleges. Thanks to some restaurants who donated food to help bring people in, the event was an enormous success.

Quickly, the event grew to include more colleges. Two years ago, the college fair drew 82 schools, including many of the Big 10 schools such as Michigan and Ohio State and the traditional black universities such as Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M.

“Just because they’re from a one-parent home or are robbing Peter to pay Paul, these kids are usually more qualified for a scholarship than the average student,” Hagy said. “We expect to have more than 2,000 students there from all over.”

Those students will be able to speak with representatives from more than 75 colleges and career institutions (including seven Big 10 schools and the major Florida schools), some of which will be doing on-the-spot acceptances if students bring their ACT scores and high school transcripts.

Two colleges in Georgia are waiving the out-of-state tuition, and at least four colleges are giving onthe-spot scholarships to students who meet the school’s criteria.

“We’re really trying to push the minority schools to get some of those kids. Some kids are waiving the application fee, which is usually $50 to $60 and will do on-the-spot acceptance if you have the grades and at least a 19 on your ACT,” Hagy said.

One school also will be giving away a $1,500 scholarship, with several others expected to do the same, and there will be prize giveaways every 30 minutes.

All area high school as well as middle school students and their parents are encouraged to attend. They will be exposed to all the ins and outs of college life and will be able to meet with financial advisors from the Suncoast Credit Union and talk about Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with instructors from Keiser University.

“We’re trying to pull from everywhere. We have a school from California coming in and one from Northern Illinois. We’re hoping it’s going to be a total success,” Hagy said.

Success will not come from the number of kids who attend, but rather those who are accepted into these schools. Many have gone to college and have begun successful lives as a result of the fair.

For more information, call 458-0362.