Each year students with outstanding grades and accolades apply to colleges and universities throughout North Carolina, but sometimes they don’t get accepted by their first choice.
For many students listening to Rosemary Simpson at the the third annual College Gear Up Day at Sampson Community College, it was an eye-opener. To help avoid getting a rejection letter, Simpson, a college adviser for Sampson County Schools, discussed why the personal essay portion of an application is important. When thousands of applications fall into the hand of college officials, they only review one for several minutes, due to the sea of applicants.
“What obstacles did you face and what did you do to overcome them?” Simpson questioned while stressing the importance of standing out. “Everybody has something.”
It was one of several lessons taught by local high school advisers, a group that also included Toni Blount and Bambi Dove. During the annual event designed to help prepare upcoming seniors, more than 30 colleges, scholarship providers and military recruiters met with hundreds of students.
The fair is a collaboration between Sampson County Schools and Clinton City Schools. For the first time, the annual college career fair was held on the community college campus. It was previously held at Clinton High School. Along with providing a neutral location for students in Clinton and Sampson County, it allowed students to become familiar with a campus setting.
“I’m excited,” said Blair Hairr, director of admissions for Sampson Community College. “It’s nice to see so many students on campus and I’m excited about their post secondary education. I look forward to Sampson Community College and other universities providing that opportunity for Sampson County students.”
Jennifer Wiley, department chair for Sampson Community College’s Criminal Justice Technology and Basic Law Enforcement Training program, was one of many college professionals available to help students. During the event, Wiley spoke to attendees about opportunities available in law enforcement.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to take a look at what other institutions we can partner with to finish up their four-year degree or also get their two-year degree and go right into the workforce,” Wiley said while explaining options.
Bradley Gurrola was one of many students exploring possible choices on Friday. The senior at Hobbton High School enjoyed attending the event, which gave him a chance to interact with college admission counselors in one location. It also saved students about 45 minutes to an hour of driving to a campus for an initial visit with a representative.
“This gives everyone around here a good chance to look at any college they want to in the area,” Gurrola said.
Gurrola is currently thinking about attending the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington or Appalachian State University. In the future he would like to become a sports broadcaster.
“I found out that a lot of different schools are building up their broadcasting programs,” he said.
Many parents attended the event with their children. Gurrola’s mother, Nitella Faison, said she received important information about requirements such as GPA and test scores and what’s available for students.
“We always have our top choices, but you want to have some things to fall back on, just in case those things don’t pan out,” Faison said. “This was a great way to find out about some things.”
Mary Ivey Stewart, admissions counselor for Salem College, said it’s a great time for the students to gather and explore options. She said it’s an important process.
“It’s never too early,” Stewart said. “The earlier they start, the better. That way, they can have a broader view and it can be narrowed down as their high school career goes on.”
By their senior year, Stewart mentioned how many students should have five choices, while preparing for the admissions process.
Elizabeth Boyette, admissions representative for the University of Mount Olive, said she was excited to meet some of the upcoming seniors from Sampson County.
“It allows to get to know them a little better and meet them face to face,” Boyette said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.