Cathy Copeland, left, and her son, Chris, a 17-year-old Moffat County High School senior, speak with Bradley Barker, an admissions representative with Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., during a college fair Tuesday at MCHS. Representatives from 30 colleges attended the fair and had an opportunity to speak with local students.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Cathy Copeland, left, and her son, Chris, a 17-year-old Moffat County High School senior, speak with Bradley Barker, an admissions representative with Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., during a college fair Tuesday at MCHS. Representatives from 30 colleges attended the fair and had an opportunity to speak with local students.

Thirty Western state colleges participate in MCHS college fair

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Story at a glance

• Moffat County High School hosted a college fair Tuesday night for local students.

• Representatives from 30 colleges attended.

• Sixty to 65 percent of MCHS students go on to higher education, MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger said.

• Student attendance at the fair was strong, perhaps due to a difficult job market, Schnellinger added.

• University of Colorado recruiter: Bachelor’s degree becoming employment requirement

Thom Schnellinger, Moffat County High School principal, summed up the goal of a college fair in one word.

“Possibilities,” he said.

On Tuesday, MCHS opened its doors to the Colorado Council of High School/College Relations and its traveling college fair. Representatives from 30 Western state institutions attended the event to speak with students.

Schnellinger said 60 to 65 percent of MCHS graduates go on to four-year colleges or technical and vocational schools.

He estimated that student attendance at Tuesday’s fair was up from last year, perhaps due to a slumping economy and job market.

“I think there’s increasing interest,” Schnellinger said. “I think a lot of kids are considering school because it’s so hard to find a job right now. We’ve even seen some of last year’s graduates showing up (to the fair) to look it over.”

Fred Peterbark, a recruiter for the University of Colorado at Boulder, also said the job market is playing a role in how students are determining their futures.

At the fair, he framed his recruitment pitch in terms of employment.

“I’m always looking for the best student for the job,” Peterbark said. “(The) University of Colorado is hiring full-time college students. It’s the best job in America because you can’t be laid-off.”

However, Peterbark said the current economic climate isn’t the only factor increasing student interest in college.

“Regardless of the economy, the fact of the matter is these days you have to have a bachelor’s degree to get a job,” he said. “We’ve even gotten to the point where you almost need a master’s degree. And we’re on the cusp of calling everyone doctor.”

MCHS senior April Etheridge said she would someday like to be called doctor.

Etheridge, who was shopping for a pre-veterinary medicine program Tuesday, said she is considering the University of Wyoming or Montana State University.

“When I look at colleges, I look for something that suits me, where the atmosphere is comfortable and I fit in,” Etheridge said.

Adrienne Loveland, assistant director of admissions at the University of Wyoming, said her school is an ideal fit for MCHS students.

“We get so many students from (MCHS),” Loveland said. “They’re perfect for Wyoming.”

Loveland said she looks for students who like the outdoors and “don’t need a shopping mall to get the brain flowing.”

“And really, that’s a Moffat County student,” she said.

Loveland said she doesn’t expect students to know exactly what degrees they want to pursue. College, particularly the early years, is more about learning intangibles.

“It’s about becoming your own person, becoming independent,” she said.

MCHS students are also encouraged to attend an upcoming college fair. The 2010 Colorado Western Slope College Fair is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Aspen.

“(The fair) will have 300 schools,” MCHS counselor Paula Duzik said. “It’s like the granddaddy of college fairs.”

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