For Jenna McGovern, college is a definite.
The 16-year-old junior at Lakewood Ranch High School ultimately wants to work for the CIA, so she plans to study international relations. She used the Manatee County School District Post-Secondary Education Night event Wednesday to try and help her narrow down where she may want to study.
“It’s been a very good eye-opener,” said Jenna’s mother, Lisa McGovern.
The McGoverns were just one of many families who made their way through Manatee Technical College’s main campus on State Road 70 for the annual event. More than 100 post-secondary institutions, including public colleges, private colleges and technical colleges, had tables of information set up. A seminar on financial aid — which was presented in two separate sessions during the 90-minute event — also drew large crowds, as parents and students clamored to hear more about paying for college.
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For some students, Wednesday marked the beginning of the process. Connor Landers, a 16-year-old junior at Braden River High School, has started to do some research but used Wednesday as an opportunity to explore his options a little bit more.
“I’m trying to find a place that really feels like home,” said Connor, who wants to study music.
Right now, Connor said he’s drawn to Florida State University’s music program, but he wants to see what other options he has out there, too.
For other students, Wednesday was more toward the end of the college-selection process. Kalebe Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, has already applied to a few schools, including Florida Atlantic University, but he wanted to hear more about other schools. Sidelined and on crutches from an injury, he sent his mother, Sheyna Dennisar, to navigate the crowds.
Kalebe said he may apply to a few more schools before the deadlines hit, but his is already excited for what opportunities await.
“It felt like I was opening a new chapter in the book of my life,” he said.
Superintendent Diana Greene encouraged students and families to use the information night to see all the different options out there. Students may find a school they really like but never would have heard about otherwise. Students are also able to see admissions requirements and can chart a course to be on track to meet those requirements if necessary.
“Students need to be able to see a plethora of options,” Greene said.
If students and families missed the event, Greene recommended students see their guidance counselor at their high school or the college and career counselor at each of the schools.