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Seniors swarm to college fair (Photo gallery)





The school year is still fairly new, but CMSD’s Class of 2019 has already begun to take the next step.

More than 1,600 seniors, as well as some juniors, traveled to the East Professional Center on Thursday for the third annual Cleveland Goes to College Kickoff and College Fair. They heard from motivational speakers and browsed booths representing two- and four-year colleges, technical education and the military.

Ambassadors promoting more than 70 institutions, the largest number yet for the fair, fielded questions. The kickoff came just three days after the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, went live online.

“Today is about encouraging these students to take real steps toward their post-high school lives,” said Marjorie Glick, manager of partnerships and programs for the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, which sponsored the event with the District and HBCU Alumni of Cleveland. “College fairs are really important when it comes to students seeing what options are out there."

Karla is in the auto-body program at Max S. Hayes High School but is unsure whether she wants to enroll at a technical school after graduation or study photography at a two- or four-year college. Asked whether she found the deliberations confusing or challenging, she replied: “It’s a little bit of both.”

Darion, a senior at Garrett Morgan High School, was checking out institutions where he could prepare for a career in engineering or a sports-related field. But which type of engineering? And if it’s sports, does he want to be a trainer or a journalist?

“I know what I want to do, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do,” he said.

Ashley and Olivia, seniors at Facing History New Tech High School, have settled on specific goals, if not their destinations.

Ashley plans to become a nurse. Olivia hopes to study law and play on a collegiate golf team. Where is undetermined, but both intend to choose a college with the right combination of academic programming and financial assistance.

“I’m ready to start a new chapter and get a college that’s going to benefit me,” Olivia said.

As part of The Cleveland Plan, CMSD tries to keep students keenly focused on college or other postsecondary education and careers and gets them thinking about possibilities even before high school.

Facing History New Tech High School begins takes students on college visits as ninth-graders. College representatives come to the high school during lunch hour and FHNT graduates return to talk about campus life.

Teacher Martha Verde pushes college preparation during her Senior Seminar course, stressing everything from writing research papers to getting along with others and practicing dining table etiquette. She said the message reaches students whose families have no history of higher education.

“I think the biggest thing is the fear factor,” Verde said. “They think college is not accessible to them until we show them that it is.”

The Cleveland Goes to College campaign will continue with the District and College Now Greater Cleveland helping students complete the FAFSA as early as possible and apply for college admission.

Ohio College Application Month -- actually month and a half -- started Monday and ends Nov. 15. But Glick is urging students not to delay.

A new state report card shows that CMSD’s graduation rate has reached 74.6 percent, the latest in a series of record highs for the District. But the Higher Education Compact, which was formed to increase the number of CMSD students who continue their studies and training after high school, reports that fewer students are enrolling in college, perhaps because of cost.

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