Horry County Schools juniors and seniors converged on the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Thursday to investigate college and career options at a college fair..
The first Horry County College fair, sponsored by the S.C. Ed-Op Tour, brought together more than 60 representatives from colleges, universities, the military and other institutions with higher education opportunities, said Jillian Ernest of Coastal Carolina University’s admissions office, who coordinated the event. She said the event has been held for years, but this was the first time all of the representatives were consolidated in one location.
A fair also was held for students in the Georgetown County School District on Wednesday at Carvers Bay High School. Ernest said this is the second year that the event has been consolidated in that area, and the high schools rotate as the event site.
Around 3,000 students were expected to attend from Horry County’s high schools, academies and Scholars Academy program. Students arrived in two waves for a morning session, and an evening session was held so parents could be involved. The event was open to the public.
Most of the booths were from institutions in North and South Carolina, but there were out-of-state offerings from the likes of West Virginia University, Rutgers University and the University of Alabama. Booths from home-state favorites such as the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and CCU were mobbed, but students also were checking out more specialized offerings such as the Living Arts College in Raleigh and the Art Institutes, which has a campus in Charleston. The U.S. Army, S.C. National Guard and Grand Strand College of Hair Design represented some of the organizations that also were on hand for students who were not necessarily university-bound.
Bambi Condrey, a 12th-grade English teacher at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, said 155 seniors were attending from her school, and they were excited to be leaving campus and going through the fair with other kids from the district. She said she stressed the importance of attending, even to the students who think they already have a plan in place.
“You never know what will happen, and you have to have backups financially and academically,” Condrey said. “I really think they wanted to use this time to branch out and see the possibilities. They actually are asking good questions, and that’s why we’re here.”
Students such as AAST senior Coley McNutt and Socastee High School senior Giorgio Pecora said they already have picked out the College of Charleston as their school of choice, although McNutt said she still was looking at USC and CCU.
“My plan is to go to the College of Charleston for communications,” she said, “but I still have my options open.”
Pecora plans to major in biochemistry, go to graduate school and work in the pharmacy field. He said while there is a slim possibility he could look elsewhere, he has other good reasons to head to Charleston in addition to liking the college.
“My brother graduated from there, and he’s opening a restaurant, so I’ll have a place to work,” Pecora said.
Despite a penchant by many students to stay in-state, representatives from schools like Rutgers said it’s worth their while to spread the word about their university.
“We have a South Carolina alumni group and do a lot of fairs around the state,” said Ruth Farb, a Rutgers alum from Pawleys Island who was representing the school along with Nugent Sharp of Mount Pleasant. “Most often, they either know Rutgers because [their family is from] the Northeast, or they’ve heard about our sports programs.”
Farb said there are about 50 students from the area who attend Rutgers, and all S.C. students who are accepted to Rutgers can apply to receive a $1,000 scholarship. Nugent said he believes the school appeals to a large number of students because a multitude of disciplines are offered.
Socastee High career counselor Derrick Hilton said his school brought between 600 and 700 juniors and seniors to the fair, and a lot of them were excited to find out about different opportunities. He said there were some students, however, who said they preferred having the fair back at Socastee because it is a smaller venue without long lines.
Ernest said she understood it was crowded, but that it was a very common set-up for college fairs, and it gives students two sessions and longer time frames in which to gather information.
“It’s nice to give them multiple opportunities [to visit each table],” Ernest said, “but it’s a college fair, and it does not serve the same purpose of a one-on-one visit to a college campus.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.