Planning for Success

- College is the expected step for some of us after High School. However, for others, it is something new. So, Rock Valley College and Rockford Public Schools teamed up to present a college fair to help students trying to find their way and plan for the future.

Rock Valley College was abuzz with activity Tuesday morning. The gym was filled with Juniors from Rockford Public Schools preparing for college, students like Kiara Burnell. Kiara is a Junior at Guilford High School.

She says she's been wanting to go to college for a long time, "[Since] when I was in 8th grade, and I wanted to study Cosmetology because my Aunt studied Cosmetology. But, then I went on and entered High School, and I decided what else I wanted to study," Kiara recalls.

Now, she says she wants to be a School Counselor, to help others discover and fulfill their dreams. 

She says this college fair is really helpful, "Yes, it really is because when I was younger, we really didn't have many events like this. But, now going to High School Junior year, they have many courses and field trips to help us prepare for our college career."

The college fair included schools from inside the state as well as from several neighboring states. The representatives were ready and rearing to go, talking to students about what they offer. The fair also featured representatives from all divisions of the military, technical colleges, and even reps to help you figure out how to pay for your education, too. This is just the kind of information kids need to be able to successfully navigate through the college application process. Here in Winnebago County, only one in five people have college degrees. When it comes to the number of college graduates who attended Rockford Public Schools, the number gets even smaller.

Guilford Junior, Chyna Jordan, says she's excited to beat those odds, "Going to college is important to me because I have family members on my Mom's side that didn't go, and some on my Dad's side that did go, and my brothers and I would be the first to finish college."

It's a feat, the college fair organizers say, they are working hard to help students, like Chyna, accomplish, "So right now, as Juniors, they need to be smart consumers and they need to start, continue actually not start, continue that research for what they're going to do after High School. They can't wait until their Senior year because then it will be too late," states Jennifer Thompson, Director for Admissions for Rock Valley College.

Tiffani Weatherly, School Counseling Administrator for Rockford Public Schools District 205, agrees, "And I want all of them to just know that there is a place for them beyond High School, I want all of our students to have a plan when they graduate."

Events like this one ensure that a plan will be devised, brought to fruition, and ultimately serve as a blueprint for their success in the future. This is the first time a college fair has been held during school hours, and given its success, it is sure to become a staple in RPS calendars in the years to come. 

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