Thirty-nine colleges at the first Cristo Rey St. Martin College Fair

For the first time in the school’s history, on September 28th, the school’s college counseling department hosted a college fair at Cristo Rey St. Martin (CRSM), welcoming 39 local and national colleges and universities to our new campus.

Typically, a CRSM junior or senior might be able to visit 1 or 2 schools a year.  Unfortunately, neither the students nor the school have the resources – human or financial – to visit more.  This year, juniors and seniors have the opportunity to speak first-hand with many more by bringing the college and university representatives to Waukegan.

Initially, CRSM college counselor Beth Kainic wasn’t sure if school representatives would be receptive to the idea; she thus reached out to 6-7 schools with varying geographic distances from us, and the response from the school representatives was overwhelmingly positive.

While many area public high schools arrange for college visits, at most high schools students have to miss a class period to talk with a college rep. CRSM already is very limited with class time due to the required Corporate Work Study Program, therefore Kainic wanted to find a way to allow students to meet with college representatives without missing class time. The idea of a college fair seemed like a positive solution.  There was only one day that would work in the 2018-19 academic schedule – September 28th – because that day was already in the calendar as a professional development day for teachers, juniors and seniors had no academic classes.  That date inflexibility did prohibit some colleges from attending the fair, but overall Kainic is very pleased with the turnout of 38 schools.

For colleges that could not be in attendance at the fair on the 28th, Kainic and the college counseling team continue to set up college visits to the CRSM campus during regular school days.  In those instances, college reps typically meet with students during lunch so that students don’t need to miss much instructional time.

“I wish we had more resources to take our students to college campuses. There is nothing like stepping on a campus, but this college fair is the next best thing,” said Kainic.

In preparation for the college fair, the college counseling department spoke to all of the juniors and seniors and provided guidance on how the students could prepare to make the most out of this opportunity.  The counselors provided the list of colleges participating and coached the students on researching the colleges to understand geographic location, size, and diversity on campus. If students have specialized interests that they would like to pursue in college, counselors encouraged them to think about those interests and research whether or not the colleges attending the fair had programs in those areas. All students have access to Naviance, the college planning and career assessment software; counselors taught them how to look up average GPA and test score information for schools to better understand how that data compares to their own performance.

Building off of skills that are introduced through the Corporate Work Study Program, the counselors also practiced shaking hands with the students and emphasized the importance of eye contact and making a good first impression with the college representatives.

The college representatives seemed impressed with the Cristo Rey students. “They seem super-engaged and they had really good questions.  They were well prepared and were actively taking notes.  It was evident that the students were excited about looking at schools,” commented Anna Schuh, Saint Louis University admissions counselor.

Below is a list of colleges and universities participating in the fair:

Alverno College (Milwaukee, WI)

Arrupe College of Loyola University (Chicago, IL)

Beloit College (Beloit, WI)

Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, WI)

Carroll University (Waukesha, WI)

Carthage College (Kenosha, WI)

Columbia College (Chicago, IL)

Cornell College (Mount Vernon, IA)

Davidson College (Davidson, NC)

DePauw University (Greencastle, IN)

University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)

Dominican University (River Forest, IL)

Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, IL)

Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, IL)

Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT)

College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA)

John Carroll University (University Heights, OH)

University of Illinois Springfield (Springfield, IL)

Illinois State University (Normal, IL)

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)

Lake Forest College (Lake Forest, IL)

Lawrence University (Appleton, WI)

Loras College (Dubuque, IA)

Marian University (Fond du Lac, WI)

Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI)

Mount Mary University (Milwaukee, WI)

National Louis University (Wheeling, IL)

North Park University (Chicago, IL)

Northern Illinois University (De Kalb, IL)

Robert Morris University (Lake County Campus – Waukegan)

Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO)

Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY)

St Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona, MN)

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale (SIU-C) (Carbondale, IL)

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIU-E) (Edwardsville, IL)

St. Norbert College (De Pere, WI)

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL)

University of Wisconsin – Parkside (Kenosha, IL)