Elgin Community College holds College Night

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, ECC holds more than 150 colleges and universities for students to explore

By Sophia Coronado, Floating Editor

As the sun begins to set, Elgin Community College’s parking lot fills and its event center sits lined with rows of tables that stretch across the building. There is an excited buzz echoing across the blue floor and high ceiling from all of the students and families wandering around as they consider which booth to visit first. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 pm, ECC held a free college fair for all to attend. With more than 150 colleges and universities there, students had many opportunities to speak to undergraduate admissions counselors. There was also an opportunity to register for the visit so that families could download a QR code to have scanned at each table. 

Upon arriving, everyone received a bag with some handout information on the financial aid process. Each table in the college fair room had various stickers, informative packets and other handouts available.

Ashley Ward, manager of student recruitment and outreach at ECC was the head organizer of the college fair. 

“I love college night, it’s very exciting,” Ward said. “It’s like a one-stop-shop for all students. So if you’re interested in attending a community college, or going to a four year or even doing both, this is a great opportunity to talk to every college or university across the nation and get to know everybody. And there’s just this energy about it. You get to know the counselors there and it’s really exciting.”

The staff at the fair seemed excited not just to help prospective students, but also to be able to meet in-person again with families. 

“We haven’t done this since obviously Covid, so this is our first in-person meeting since 2019. At that point, we had 436 students that registered and 266 that attended. So I’m hoping that we’ll have something similar this year” Ward said.

Attendees this year had the opportunity to meet with colleges and universities from all over the country, set up alphabetically for convenience, from Albion College to Xavier University.

Vanderbilt University’s admissions counselor John Palmer Rea was one of the many counselors available to answer students’ and families’ questions. 

“[It’s important to attend college fairs] because we’re able to see so many students at once, so it’s a great way for an institution like us, [since] we’re eight hours away from the Chicago area, to see students from multiple high schools all in one night,” Rea said.

Although navigating the surplus of schools might be overwhelming at first, it gets easier the more a student knows about themself. 

Wendy and her son Connor attended the college fair in order to “better understand their options.” Her son is looking to major in virology, epidemiology and immunology, so they are able to narrow down their search to medical schools that will relate to his majors.

Financial aid is one of the most important factors for college, and it’s essential to be educated on the process.

“You can gain a lot of information in financial aid, because today we also have financial aid presentations,” Ward said. “You can also learn about transferring from a community college to a four year, and you can learn about going to a public four year, private four year, all in one spot. And if you don’t have enough time to actually talk with everyone, if you scan, they’ll be able to start sending you emails so now you’re in touch with someone that’s more personalized and you can ask all the questions you want to whoever was just attending.”