Students Explore Opportunities at Annual College Fair


SMC students are once more suffering from application stress, as the traumatic high school days of investigating colleges are being relived. 

Those interested in transferring out of Santa Monica College next year attended the annual college fair held yesterday.

While students were trying to find shelter from the rain, over 2,000 students were networking with representatives of their selective schools while confined to the tight perimeters of the cafeteria and Cayton Center. 

"It was very busy," Transfer Center Coordinator, Daniel L. Nannini said. "Since it took place in the cafeteria, it allowed for a lot of people just grabbing a bite to eat to stop and ask some questions."

Despite the gloomy weather, over 100 schools attended, ranging from U.C.'s and Cal States to private universities and even a few international schools such as Angila Ruskin University from the UK.

"Our hope is that our students took advantage of this opportunity," Transfer Center Director, Maria Bonin said. "Not all schools have this resource."

The event is held in the fall and spring semesters and has come a long way over the course of Bonin's career.

"We used to have 50 to 60 schools ten years ago; this (year) will be the largest college fair yet," Bonin said. 

The fair allows for students to expand on their prior collegiate goals.  According to Bonin, a lot of students come here hoping to transfer to UCLA. By attending the fair, they are given the opportunity to take a look at UCLA and other schools offering their preferred major.   

Nannini advised students unsure of their major that "you should eliminate what you don't want, make a decision on something not offensive and plow through it. There is a misconception about majors that whatever you major in, you are stuck with for life."

To better divide the foot traffic, the U.C.'s and competitive private schools were kept in the Cayton Center, whereas the smaller liberal arts schools and Cal States were prominently displayed in the cafeteria.  

Students swarmed around the UCLA and USC booths as they asked a varied amount of questions and picked up a number of pamphlets from the tables.  

"I like that things are a little more broken up," computer engineering major, Matthew Lutz said. "It lightens up the crowdedness and allows for a clearer look at things."

In rough economic times, traveling to other campuses can cost students a substantial amount of time and money, thus it is fortunate to take advantage of the number of colleges brought to SMC's campus.  

"It's a cheap way to visit 110 campuses," Nannini said.

Some students, on the other hand, found the fair quite useless.  "The schools were just referring me to Web sites," photography major Alexandra Brandl said.  "I didn't learn anything new from the fair."

Even those who didn't attend the fair found themselves affected as the parking lot's roof level was closed off for representatives.  This created an even larger traffic block consuming more of the students' time in the parking lot.

Despite varied opinions of the fair, its purpose is to assist students and give them a better perspective on pursuing schools.

Apart from the two college fairs, students are urged to attend sessions on college transferring, application assistance and university representatives who visit the campus.  The exact dates and locations of the various events can be found on the Transfer Center's web site.

The fair will be back April 27 and include a number of schools that originially could not attend yesterday's fair.

Bonin's advice for next semester would be, "Definitely have a game plan as far as what you hope to pursue. Do some research on the schools prior to showing up to the fair and see the housing, financial aid, and majors that they offer."