Dist. 211 College Night draws more than 1,100 students

More than 1,100 students and their families filled the gyms of Palatine High School this fall to meet with nearly 200 colleges and universities from around the world at Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211's College Night.

The event is one of many opportunities students in the state's largest high school system have to explore options available to them after high school. District 211 also offers the First Generation College Symposium, Directions College and Career Fair for students with special needs, a Career Expo and Financial Aid evenings.

"College Night is a longtime tradition in District 211, and we were excited to see our students and families return in person this year," said Director of College and Career Readiness Michele Napier.

"Creating a comprehensive approach to college and career readiness provides all students and their families with the resources they need to navigate the process and align students' interests and goals with new opportunities."

Hoffman Estates High School senior Eugene Sohn attended the event to narrow down his college choices.

"I like to see that D211 is so connected with so many colleges so that we can learn about schools we may not have otherwise heard of," Sohn said.

For other students, like Palatine High School senior Emma Zach, the night was about following up and learning next steps.

"I've already applied to all the schools that I want to," Zach said. "Tonight, I am just asking them what I need to do after I apply and what's the next step. I met with Washington University, and they answered the questions I had about the interview process."

College and university representatives said they became increasingly impressed with how prepared the District 211 students were as they continued to meet with families.

"I have noticed while talking to students that they understand the admission jargon and know what questions to ask," said Shannon Decker, assistant dean of admissions from Hofstra University in New York. "You don't always get that at college fairs. I have been impressed by how prepared and how much research the students have done."

Donald Vivian, University of Michigan recruitment coordinator, noted the benefits of hosting events like the College Night, which bring everyone together at the same time.

"It gives all the students the same opportunity to meet with the different recruiters," Vivian said. "This has been a great opportunity to meet with students in these communities."

Allie Robak, regional recruitment specialist for the University of Nebraska, knows well the preparation that goes into District 211 students' post-high school journey.

She is a 2017 Conant High School graduate, and was excited to share her experiences to help students continue to excel.

Parents noted the college and career journey can seem overwhelming at first, but said taking advantage of District 211's suite of preparatory opportunities makes things easier.

Recruiters gave plenty of advice to the families, and one recurring piece was simple.

"Go visit the campus," Robak said. "You can't know where you are going to and where you are going to live for the next four years without visiting it. You get a unique perspective being there."

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