College fair gets South Florida students thinking about future

College fair gets South Florida students thinking about future

Maybe it was her volunteer work. Or all those dual enrollment classes.

Jailene Jeantilus isn’t sure what did it, but she could read the recruiter’s face as he combed through her application for Florida Memorial University.

There was a smile and a nod, and then pen-to-paper to confirm it: The high school senior from Carol City High was conditionally accepted to the private school in Miami Gardens.

Jeantilus was one of thousands of students from across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties who poured onto the Miami-Dade Fair Grounds on Wednesday for a college and trade school fair hosted by 100 Black Men of South Florida, Miami-Dade schools and a number of other organizations and businesses.

“I’m still a little jittery and shocked about it,” Jantilus said. She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling to prevent tears from falling. “Since I see I have the capabilities of being accepted right here at this college fair, I’m definitely going to continue to go around and apply to other schools.”

Organization leaders said they host the fair, in its fourth year, to boost college enrollment rates, or help young people get well-paying jobs in technical fields.

“We’re providing kids with access,” said Jonathan Dotson, the organization’s vice president.

He said young people today have three options: “Go to college, get a trade or go to jail. The third option is no longer an option for our kids.”

Across the country, college attendance is on the increase and Florida has made historic gains in the number of high school students who graduate — though some question the figures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 67 percent of white high school graduates attend college, compared with 59 percent of blacks and about 60 percent of Hispanics.

On Wednesday, dozens of universities and trade schools were on hand to compete for students and offer admission guidance. A DJ spun records and artists from the Moving Lives of Kids Art Center handed students a paintbrush to contribute to a mural.

Sierra Sirju peppered a representative from Florida A&M about GPA requirements, applications and standardized tests.

“I’m really interested in college right now,” Sirju said, a 16-year old junior at Carol City High. “I’m trying to do whatever I can. I’m trying to look for internships, extra community partnerships, anything I can.”

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