College Fair welcomes representatives from across the country

Courtney Callard, Senior Writer

With over 120 schools, and representatives flying in from across the country, the annual College Fair might appear intimidating to many students. In reality, the experience aims to do the opposite, helping students ease into the world of college applications. On March 13th, DePaul Prep’s sophomores and juniors attended the spring fair: the second in-person fair in the school’s history. 

Organized by Tony Minestra, Director of College Counseling, with the help of counselors Kelley Curtin, Kate Kaushal, and Andrea Janick, the fair offered a variety of colleges for students to explore. Through a college recruiting network, schools are able to find when representatives are accessible and plan these events. 

“We set up their travel calendars well in advance of the academic year. We will also reach out to all the schools in our roster. [We reach out to] any school we had a student apply to, any school that visited us in the fall.” 

As President of the Illinois College Counselor Association, Minestra finds himself proactive throughout the planning process. 

“When we were planning out our calendar I looked at weeks that made the most sense. What weeks are other college fairs happening in Chicago? What are the days we can get the most representatives at our school?” 

At the fair, students have the chance to meet future representatives who will become their guides for their personalized college plan. For Ms. Theresa Bertini, the representative for Lawrence Technological University, the job of her and her peers is very robust. 

“We are traveling all the time, we are reading [applications], we’re doing scholarships, we’re hosting invited students.” 

As Minstera adds, “They’re essentially your person at that school, they are the person who can go with questions, someone who will answer the phone, someone that you can meet with at coffee shops to ask questions.” 

College representatives also give students access to a network of college opportunities they wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Mr. Andra Barnes of Chicago State University wants students to find the best school for their interests. 

“I might not have what the student is interested in but I know what they have so I’m able to direct them and say ‘Hey go over to Xavier see Julie [college representative of Xavier University]. They’ve got the program you’re interested in.’”  

This makes it important for students to take advantage of their first interactions with representatives, because it creates connections with schools early. “I have multiple seniors now who met those reps, built those relationships, kept an email communication going, maybe did a college visit and now that person’s representative is their advocate in the admission process,” recounted Minestra.

Bertini recalled how her own college fair experience impacted her school choice. “It’s important for families and the student; if I hadn’t gone to the college fair I wouldn’t have made my choice of where I wanted to go.”

As DePaul Prep grows, Minestra is positive that the college fair will follow suit. “Naturally as we [the student body] just get bigger, more familiar with it, and more curious with the college process that will expand a little bit.” He wants to continue bringing in more schools, especially out-region colleges and more HBCUs.

“Our constant mission in our office is that colleges see us. See DePaul College Prep, know DePaul College Prep, know about who we are and open up doors for our students.”

The overall purpose of the college fair remains the same: to help students navigate this new process. Mr. Minestra sees the fair as a way for students to become more comfortable about exploring their options. 

“Part of the purpose of the college fair is to build your confidence. That college reps are just people who are ultimately looking out for your best interest.” 

In addition, Ms. Julie Nelson from Xavier University values this, constantly working to build positive relationships with students. 

“If you walk away from my table and I’ve taken some of the ‘scary’ away from this process for you, I’ve done my job right.”