Expo seeks to demystify college planning process


HANCOCK COUNTY — The decisions seem numerous — what tests to take, which campuses to visit, whether an in-state, out-of-state, private or public school is the best option. It’s no wonder, officials say, many students find the process of planning for the next step in education to be intimidating.

To help students find the path that’s right for them, Leaders in Navigating Knowledge, a Hancock County nonprofit, has organized an education fair with representatives from more than 60 colleges and institutions on hand to advise attendees.

Education Expo, a free event in its second year, is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Hancock Wellness Center. It will have options for both high school students and adults who are interested in higher education.

“When considering what step to take next in their education, many people are overwhelmed by all the decisions and options that are available to them,” said Danielle Daugherty, executive director of LINK. “We want to help people address those issues, whether it’s just by helping them fill out an application, deciding if it makes sense to take out loans or just looking at some other ways to reduce the cost of college.”

The event is open to county residents of all ages, Daugherty said. Experts from nearby colleges will be on hand to not only share information about their institutions but also to provide insight on what they look for in applicants.

Brett Reardon, an admissions counselor at Franklin College, will lead attendees through a workshop detailing the best practices for one of the first steps to pursuing higher education — filling out college applications.

“The world of college admissions is quite complex, but we’re trying to give families and students the tools they need to be successful,” Reardon said. “We want to erase some of the confusion and make sure you feel informed about the places you might want to investigate more.”

The college admissions process is constantly evolving, Reardon said. Many parents are surprised to see just how much things have changed since when they attended school, he said.

“The admissions process, financial aid and enrollment management changes from year to year,” he said. “But by talking to prospective students in person, we’ll be able to share some tips about what they need to be aware of.”

Kim Kile, guidance director at Greenfield-Central High School, has urged juniors and seniors to attend the fair.

School counselors begin encouraging students and families to map out an education plan as early as middle school, Kile said.

“There are so many factors for students to address, so we begin that conversation early, and it continues as our students work their way through school,” she said. “We try to give them the big picture, so they can find their passion and figure out what they want to do with it, and how they’re going to get there.”

Daugherty stresses the expo isn’t only for high school students, though. She urges adults who have completed high school but haven’t decided if higher education is an appropriate choice for them to attend the event, too.

“Everyone knows someone who’s sort of drifting, who wants to do something in their educational journey but isn’t sure of what steps to take,” she said. “If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s much nicer to have someone guide you there rather than trying to figure it out on your own.”

LINK offers free educational mentoring to anyone seeking help, Daugherty said. To learn more about the organization or the upcoming expo, visit educatehancockcounty.com.

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What: Education Expo

Who: For high school students, their parents and other adults interested in higher education

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Sept. 23

Where: Hancock Wellness Center, 888 W. New Road, Greenfield

Cost: Free

Child care: Available by calling 317-477-0745

Information: educatehancockcounty.com