Stuyvesant Hosts First In-Person College Fair Since Pandemic

Stuyvesant High School hosts its first in-person college fair since the pandemic began, providing college information to juniors as they begin to prepare for their application process.

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Stuyvesant hosted its college fair on April 27 to provide essential information to juniors as they begin to prepare for their college applications. This was the first in-person fair since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 107 universities were featured, either in-person or online, offering students the opportunity to learn about their admissions processes, school curricula, and student life.

During the fair, each college was assigned a specific location, ranging from the theater atria to the eighth-floor classrooms. The event was divided into five periods. During the first four periods, students could visit the location of any school they were interested in and would receive an organized presentation. College representatives introduced their schools and discussed various topics like academic programs, extracurricular activities, and financial aid. Students were also allowed to ask questions and interact with the college representatives. In the fifth and final period, students were free to roam around the fair and engage in informal conversations with the college representatives.

Since the last in-person college fair took place in 2019, bringing back the fair required considerable support from many, including school staff, the Parent Association, and countless volunteers. Though organizers were challenged by the volunteers’ lack of prior experience, many considered it a success. “At least several hundred juniors attended the fair,” College Counseling Director Jeremy Makris said in an e-mail interview. “There was an air of excitement among students and parents, and we heard many positive comments from families during and after the event.”

College representatives, including both admissions officers and Stuyvesant alumni, also expressed their enthusiasm for the fair. The event gave representatives a chance to share comprehensive snapshots of their respective colleges while allowing students to ask meaningful follow-up questions. During the sessions, representatives were able to provide an authentic introduction to their schools and the admissions process. “[College representatives] share ideas about better ways to ask questions to cut through the superficial stats, to get at what really will matter if they attend that school,” University of Pennsylvania representative and Associate Dean of Admissions Justin Mazur said in an e-mail interview.

During the question session, representatives found the attendees to be engaged and curious, asking relevant questions to understand schools in depth. “Attendance and questions from families [were] wonderful,” Mazur said. “Students and parents were asking the right questions in order to understand [the] differences between schools. Clearly they [learned] from many different presenters over the course of the evening.”

The representatives viewed the college fair as a unique opportunity to learn about and compare different colleges in one place. From the perspective of an admissions officer, Mazur recommended the fair to future students. “It’s rare these days to be able to ‘shop around’ [with colleges] over the course of one evening at your own school,” Mazur said. “Listening to presentations back to back, collecting brochures and knowledge, while also getting to ask a personalized question of an admissions officer […] [is] a tremendous opportunity that is very different than passively tuning in for a virtual session.”

For many students, the college fair was an exciting opportunity to meet admissions officers and learn more about their colleges of interest. Many students considered the fair very resourceful as they were able to gain clarification regarding the application process and what colleges are looking for. “I learned that some colleges look at grades more heavily than others, but others prioritize extracurriculars,” junior Soham Mukherjee said. “It was nice hearing about admissions from the perspective of a college admissions officer.”

On the other hand, some students also felt that the fair could be organized differently to allow them to research more colleges and gain a more personalized experience. “You could only really go to four or five rooms,” junior Arielle Nudewlman said. “And some admissions officers spent all of the time just giving information without leaving time for questions.”

This concern was what many students wished the fair could address in the future. The fair was fairly fast-paced, especially given that many students were enthusiastic to explore more colleges. “I was disappointed because I wanted to see a lot more colleges, but there simply wasn’t enough time,” junior Namera Bisme said.

For the class of 2024, the fair marked the beginning of the college season and generated excitement for many soon-to-be seniors regarding the beginning of the college process. “It was nice to really see that all of us are in this together,” Nudelman said. “We are all going through this college application process, and it was evident by the number of people that showed up to the fair.”

Likewise, sparking enthusiasm was the original goal of the Stuyvesant college counseling office. “We hope the event kick-started [the students’] willingness to directly engage and start learning about specific colleges,” Makris said. “Most importantly, [we hoped to] remind them of the importance of not fixing on prestige or selectivity, but rather identifying colleges by how much of a fit they represent rather than how low their admit rate might be.”

Ultimately, the college fair was incredibly helpful for students to gain an in-person perspective on the college process. While some students were able to learn more about their colleges of interest, others found it an opportunity to discover new schools that they had not previously considered. “Hearing about so many programs [from] all of the colleges really intrigued me,” Bisme said. “[It] had me excited for colleges I previously didn’t know I could be excited to go to.”