College fair in Aspen reaches wide with variety of workshops | AspenTimes.com

College fair in Aspen reaches wide with variety of workshops

ASPEN – While many of those in attendance at Sunday’s Colorado Western Slope College Fair will be looking for face time with college reps, others will spend their time learning to navigate the sometimes murky waters of higher education.

“Our college fair addresses the entire process: How do you pick the right school for you? How do you pay for it? What does it mean to be a student-athlete?” said Sandra Peirce, an Aspen school board member who has helped organize the college fair since its inception. “Plus, these workshops allow the kids better access to the college reps by virtue of the fact there are additional activities, beyond the traditional ‘fair’ setting.”

In fact, the eighth annual Colorado Western Slope College Fair, taking place at Aspen High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, features an array of workshops, lectures and other “extras” – all of which have grown out of an expressed need from students and parents.

For example, “Let’s Talk Money” offers “simple steps to find your way through the financial aid maze,” while “The College Bound Student Athlete” informs students about complicated NCAA rules and regulations. Other offerings include a seminar for sophomores and juniors on “Understanding Standardized Testing for College Admission,” as well as one for juniors and seniors called “Take the Next Educational Step: Transition from High School to College.”

“There is a lot more to college than just getting accepted. … It is a really big decision that affects the entire family,” Peirce said.

With that in mind, the college fair workshops span the spectrum, with 18 different sessions – some presented in Spanish – offered free of charge to the 2,000-plus students and parents expected to attend.

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The breadth of offerings represents the breadth of students who will attend the college fair. According to event organizers, students from 60 Colorado

Western Slope high schools are expected to attend; many will travel six to eight hours by school bus – from places like Bayfield High, Nucla High and Ignacio High -and will camp out in the Aspen Middle School gym on Saturday night.

“For kids from rural Colorado, this is a big opportunity,” said Peirce, adding that the college fair in Aspen – unlike those in places like Metro Denver – is more intimate. “Our mission is to give students from across the Western Slope access to college reps.”

As for the colleges themselves, fair organizers say that more 200 reps will be in attendance. And like the fair itself, the colleges these people represent span the spectrum from colleges and universites, to two-year and technical schools – with workshops that fit the same bill, including “Admissions at Highly Selective Colleges” featuring resp from Harvard, Hopkins, Duke, Brown and others, and “Why College?,” which is perfect for students who aren’t quite sure what to do after high school.

“The college fair is a great experience for all students and parents,” said Peirce. “It really brings the resources you need in one place, regardless of where a student is headed after high school.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com