YES Prep Public Schools
William Keaton, Manager of Special Project, College Initiatives
 
On Thurs., Oct. 14, we hosted our annual YES Prep College Fair. This year, because of the pandemic, we continued to offer our college fair virtually to allow students to interact with over 160 colleges and universities from across the United States. The fair included a wide variety of college options including panels that highlighted:
  • Historically Black colleges & universities (HBCUs)
  • Military academies and scholarship programs from all six branches of the US military
  • Colleges from the Ivy League and other most competitive colleges
  • Local Houston universities, colleges and community colleges
  • International colleges from four countries

Juniors and seniors explore higher education options

At YES Prep, we understand the importance for students to interact with college and university admissions representatives.  Having the opportunity to engage with them during their junior and senior year allows them to explore diverse college options, figure out what “fit factors” they are looking for in a college, build their college list, get empowered with information, and dramatically increase their college-readiness.

At the College Fair, colleges were grouped into groups of up to six colleges, allowing students to interact with 18 colleges and universities during the three hours of the fair. Colleges were grouped together by common factors like:

  • Geography: Houston area panel
  • Mission: Hispanic serving institution panel
  • Student population: women’s college panel
  • Shared background: catholic colleges panel

This allows students to learn about six colleges that may be important to them, while also getting to learn how the colleges are different.

Ignacio Nolasco, a senior at YES Prep West Secondary shared “Thanks to these sessions I was able to understand the college programs better. It was cool to compare the schools and their majors and what they have to offer each other. It made me confident in my college choices.”

In total, we provided the opportunity for all of our juniors and seniors to participate and they generated over 61,000 contact cards with 160 colleges and universities. 

Benefits of hosting during the day

Most school districts offer college fairs outside of the school day in the evening. These events have had declining participation even before the pandemic and engage younger grade levels and the most highly motivated students. Having the fair in the evening also creates barriers for students who work or have transportation barriers.  
 
For this reason, we offer our college fair every year, during the school day in lieu of classes for one morning, to remove barriers to access. This allows 100% of our junior and senior classes to participate. This is one way we celebrate our district's college-going culture and promote our mission. 

Our college partners see the results. One admissions officer shared: “Out of all the virtual fairs, this by far was the best. We had over 440 students in our panel and that is just outstanding!”

Want to learn more about these colleges?

All of the panels from the YES Prep College Fair were recorded and are available online. If you are a parent who would like to learn more about a college your son or daughter is interested in, or a student who wants to watch some other panels you couldn’t watch the day of the fair, you can learn about all the colleges that participated in this year’s fair by clicking here. Included is a playlist of all the College Fair panels and a guide to help find the right recording to learn about a specific college or type of college.

 


About the author

William Keaton currently serves as the Manager of Special Projects on the College Initiatives Team. William graduated from Schreiner University with a BA in Political Science and Mathematics and earned his master’s in Higher Education Administration in 2013 from Ball State University.