Thousand attend Chesco College Fair


The Exton Square Mall hosted the Chester County College Fair, Monday. More than 5,000 students and parents attended the event.

EXTON — More than 5,000 high school students and their parents shopped for higher education at the Exton Square Mall on Oct.27 when representatives from over 225 colleges nationwide gathered for the 2014 Chester County College Fair. Attendees were able to travel from West Chester University to James Madison University in just a few short steps, completing a cross-country higher education tour in a matter of hours as they navigated the college and university booths.

Coordinated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) and sponsored by Wells Fargo and Huntingdon Learning Center, the free fair was open to the general public. 

A third time visitor, Jill D’Ginto considers herself a College Fair pro. This year, she attended with her youngest daughter Liz in tow. The high school junior at Downingtown West High School is interested in physical therapy and, after speaking with a dozen admissions representatives, is confident she has narrowed down her options. “It’s convenient to have all the colleges in one place,” her mother said, adding the fair is an excellent tool for the community.

At the James Madison University (JMU) booth, representative Jordan Moore chatted with prospective students about entrance requirements, financial aid, campus life and academic programs. “It helps get our name out there,” she explained. “Most students in this area have at least heard of JMU, but it’s nice to come out and talk with them a little bit more.”

Students and parents were able to meet with representatives from colleges and universities across the United States, as well as nursing schools, junior colleges, community and technical colleges, trade and skill schools and branches of the military service.

“What a wonderful place to host the event,” said Eileen P. Acello, the Director of Development and Recruitment for Saint Joseph’s University, adding that her own high school sophomore was visiting the fair for the first time. “The mall is a familiar place. It’s less intimidating for students, especially the younger ones, to start looking around for the first time in this environment.”

Participants walked away with bags of informational brochures and catalogs, as well as the knowledge that their post-secondary options are far more expansive than they once thought.

“There’s something for everyone at the fair, from four-year and two-year colleges, to specialized schools,” said Jennifer Shealy, CCIU special events coordinator. “Attending the fair can save families time and money on college visits and help students narrow down their top choices.”

Among the participating local colleges and universities were: West Chester University, Immaculata University, Villanova University, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Temple University and Cabrini College. Representatives from more distant institutions also were present, including: Virginia Tech, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Tampa, Manhattan College and Culinary Institute of America.

The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) organizes the fair on behalf of the guidance counselors of Chester County.

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