Aspen School District to host 15th annual college fair on Sunday

Thousands of high school students from across the state participated in the Colorado Western Slope College Fair in 2016.
File photo/The Aspen Times

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The Colorado Western Slope College Fair will be held adjacent to Aspen Middle School on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admissions officers from 247 colleges, universities and programs will have information tables in the fair tent, and there will be 25 workshops held in the elementary, middle school and high school buildings.

Workshops begin at 10 a.m. and the fair floor opens at 10:30 a.m. There is no onsite parking, but attendees can take a free shuttle from the Buttermilk Mountain parking lot to the Aspen School District campus.

A full list of participating colleges and planned workshops can be found at

On Sunday, more than 2,000 students and their families will take over the Aspen School District campus for the 15th annual Colorado Western Slope College Fair.

But according to Kathy Klug, director of the fair and longtime local post-secondary education advocate, college is a loose term.

“We try not to say ‘Go to college,’ but instead say ‘Go to the place that’s right for you,’” Klug said Thursday morning. “We want kids to know that anything they do to advance their education past high school is college.”

Surrounded by fliers and posters for the upcoming fair, Klug explained that many young adults think of going to college as going to a big or prestigious university and earning a four-year degree.

In reality, Klug said there are a number of practical ways for teens to pursue higher education — whether it’s through community college, a vocational program or a small liberal arts institution — and showing students those ways in hopes they’ll find the right “fit or match” is exactly what the annual college fair in Aspen is all about.

“Kids who find the right college home are more likely to stay there and graduate,” Klug said. “We should script every high school graduate on the Western Slope of Colorado on the trajectory they want to be on.”

Klug said 247 colleges, universities and programs will be represented by admissions officers Sunday in a “circus tent” set up on the Aspen School District campus.

Students and families from 82 high schools across the Western Slope will be able to meet officers at their booths and during over 25 unique workshops meant to help give students a better idea of post-high school life.

Some of this year’s workshops will explore topics like financial aid, being a collegiate student athlete, standardized testing, benefits of a gap year and more.

Charlie Laube, one of Aspen High School’s college counselors, said he still remembers the students he spoke with during the Colorado Western Slope College Fair when he was working as an admissions officer for The College of Wooster in Ohio years ago.

“Being here as a college representative showed me how invested this community is in education,” Laube said. “The reps really do make connections with the kids here and have meaningful conversations.”

Overall, Laube and Klug feel the fair is important for Western Slope ninth- through 12th- graders to explore their higher education options and find what programs could help them fulfill their dreams.

“I tell the students, get up and out of bed to meet your future,” Klug said of Sunday’s college fair. “Your future is here, you just have to come and find it.”

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