The future is now at Sunday’s Western Slope College Fair in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

The future is now at Sunday’s Western Slope College Fair in Aspen

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Students and parents will have access to more than 270 colleges scheduled to participate in the Colorado Western Slope College Fair this Sunday.

As a college counselor at Aspen High School, Kathleen Klug walks the walk when she says she's all about giving students access to what's next in their academic futures.

Klug and her group of 100-plus volunteers have been working for the past year to put on the ninth annual Colorado Western Slope College Fair, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Aspen High School.

The free event is specifically for high school students from the 78 Western Slope high schools and their parents. The fair's main goals are to connect kids with colleges and give them the opportunity to meet their future.

"We do our best to make sure the students are aware of their choices," Klug said. "I'm in the futures business … kid's futures."

“We’re really trying to prepare these kids for the long run in college. We don’t want to see students simply attending; we want to see students finishing college.”
Kelly Doherty
Lawyer and parent

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When the first college fair was held in Aspen in 2005, 130 colleges participated in the event. On Sunday, there will be representatives from more than 270 colleges, universities, two-year and technical schools to answer questions about degrees and programs offered.

College representatives also will have an opportunity to explain the application processes and requirements to high school students.

The fair does not allow recruiters; it only allows admission officers from each college. The fair provides bus transportation to all Western Slope schools and offers to house participating students overnight on Saturday at the Aspen Middle School.

There also will be three sessions of workshops offered from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., covering a broad spectrum of topics. Workshops will deal with scholarships and financial aid, opportunities for students with special needs, opportunities and access for Native American and Latino students, consulting advice for parents and students to cope with the costs of college and information for student-athletes.

More than 25,000 postcards have been sent to all junior and senior students on the Western Slope with information about the fair.

Klug is a self-proclaimed "possibility thinker" and was inspired to put on an all-encompassing college fair after realizing many students were simply defaulting to college and not really choosing a school that made for a better fit.

"I wanted to find a way to expose our kids to the different college possibilities," Klug said. "We also wanted to make this kind of access available to all Western Slope students."

Kelly Doherty is a lawyer and a parent, but for the past 10 weeks, she's been a dedicated, full-time volunteer for the fair.

"I'm a part-timer for the fair the rest of the year," she said. "We're really trying to prepare these kids for the long run in college. We don't want to see students simply attending; we want to see students finishing college."

For general information or to access a list of participating colleges, visit http://www.cwscollegefair.org.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com