A record number of students turned out to peruse colleges, trade schools, and military organizations Tuesday night at the 11th annual Mid-Ohio Valley College Night.
Nearly 350 students shuffled through the doors of Marietta College's Dyson Baudo Recreation Center, where around 70 colleges and organizations greeted students and handed out information about their respective schools.
The attendance was the highest in at least the five years Marietta College admission counselor Josh Thrash has helped to organize the event and possibly the best attendance in its 11-year history.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Caldwell High School student John Crum, center, and mom Kim, talk with a representative from the University of Cincinnati at Tuesday’s Mid-Ohio Valley College Night. Around 70 colleges, trade schools, and military organizations were on hand for the event.
"The high school guidance counselors really promote this event and make it possible," said Thrash.
The event was a two-hour trek for the 45 high school seniors who bussed down from Wellston High School in Jackson County, said Wellston guidance counselor Brandi Ernst.
"The size of this fair is great. The amount of schools and the face that there were armed forces mean a lot of opportunities for our students," said Ernst.
At a glance
Representatives from around 70 colleges, universities, military organizations, and trade schools were present.
Organizations from 11 states were represented.
With 343 students signing in, the event was the best attended in at least the past five years, and possibly in the event history.
Students from seven different Ohio counties and five different West Virginia counties attended, some traveling for two hours or more.
The Wellston students are enrolled in the school's Journey program, which prepares students for college by helping them set goals, prep for the their college admissions exams, fill out applications, and navigate financing, said Journey teacher Ellen McCabe.
"Right now we're doing our goal setting, but soon we'll be doing college research and visits," said McCabe.
Wellston student Brandon Foughty, 17, was hoping to find schools that combined his academic and athletic interests.
"My major is going to be mechanical engineering and it needs to have wrestling because that's a major sport for me, and I feel like I can get a scholarship," said Foughty.
Like Foughty, many students were looking for schools that suited their academic interests.
Marietta High School junior Colton Kephart, 16, knows that he wants to go into politics.
"Here I can get a good idea just how good a school's political science course is," said Kephart.
The Kephart has until next year to apply to schools, he found several candidates Tuesday, including The Ohio State University, Ohio University, and West Virginia University.
Waterford High School senior Cassie Reed, 17, also has a solid plan for life after graduation. She plans to major in crop and soil management at The Ohio State University's Agricultural Technical Institute.
"I have a visit set for Oct. 12. I plan on going there for one year and then transferring to the main university (in Columbus). I pretty much have it all set," said Reed.
Not everyone shared Reed's absolute certainty.
"I'm pretty much the opposite," joked Reed's friend Lakin Tolson, 17, of Waterford. "I know I don't want to go far way. I've thought about the nursing program at Washington State (Community College) and I'll probably do a college visit there soon."
Where students were certain, many parents in attendance were hoping their sons and daughters would give consideration to a variety of schools before deciding.
Mom Amy Hockenbrocht was at the fair picking up information on architecture programs for son Nicholas Palazzo, a 16-year-old Marietta High School student who had to miss the event due to driving school.
"If you'd ask him he'll say Ohio State, but I want him to keep his options open. We're just starting early to stay on top of things," said Hockenbrocht.
Caldwell High School student John Crum has been looking into the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics but was browsing other colleges that might suite his interest in engineering.
"We thought we'd see what's out there," said mom Kim Crum.
Father Bill Lamb was at the college fair with younger daughter Kaitlin Lamb, a senior at the Washington County Career Center.
"I want to be close to home, but far from home if that makes any sense," joked Kaitlin, of Marietta.
Bill's older daughter spent a year away at college before deciding she wanted to be closer to home and his hope for Kaitlin is that she finds a good fit and sticks with it.
"I just want her to know what she wants and get a good education," he said.
Kaitlin is well on her way. She plans on studying nursing and already has a job at an area nursing home and 10 hours of college credit under her belt.
In fact, the event was a good change for current college students to weigh their options as well.
Current WSCC students Andrew Morse and Zane Ellenwood, both 19, were looking for four-year university programs to which they might want to transfer.
Morse, a business major, is looking for a business law program.
"The smaller the school the better," he said.
Ellenwood, a liberal arts major, has not nailed down exactly what he wants to do.
"I'm here trying to figure out what schools have certain programs I'd be interested in. I know I want to do something creative," he said.
Ellenwood also has one other requirement.
"I would like to stay in state so I can get care packages easily," he joked.