Grades 6-12; Boarding 8-12


College Fair Held at Pennington for Members of the Class of 2025

Representatives from over 140 colleges and universities made their way to the Pennington campus for the annual spring college fair early last week. The fair was spread across two days to allow students ample opportunity to speak with the representatives without feeling rushed. The colleges in attendance were an array of large state schools like Rutgers University, Penn State, and James Madison in Harrisonburg, Virginia; smaller, private institutions like Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Pitzer College in Claremont, California; and super-selective area schools like New York University and Princeton University. The schools not only ranged across the continental United States, but from across the globe as well, with representatives from University College of Dublin, The American University of Paris, and University of Toronto.

Associate Director of College Counseling Sarah Zoll, who was previously a college admission counselor at Gettysburg College, University of Central Florida, and Purdue University, believes that the Pennington College Fair is a wonderful opportunity for students to see a wide range of colleges and universities and hopefully be exposed to schools that maybe were not previously on students’ radar. All the other team members from the College Counseling office were on hand to help direct and guide the juniors they’ve already been working with in family meetings, college counseling classes, and individual counseling sessions. “What’s really great is that we often have a good sense of what an individual student is currently looking for in terms of location or a specific major, what their goals might be with regard to athletics, or what their financial aid needs might be. We can tell our students to talk to specific schools which might be a fantastic fit, and fortunately it is still early enough in their search process that they are open to these ideas,” Zoll explained.

Brody B. ’25, who intends to pursue a degree in business, was able to speak with representatives from Ursinus College and Lycoming College. “It was great to engage with the reps,” said Brody. “I definitely got more out of it than I was expecting,” he added, after learning a bit more about the entrepreneurship program offered at Ursinus.

Simonne B. ’25 appreciated that there were so many schools from far away; she was able to get a good sense of the school before deciding if she would want to travel for an in-person visit. She had great conversations with reps from Fordham University and Emory University, and observed, “This is definitely different than just scrolling through a website. Talking to the reps in person is so much better.”

Juliet W. ’25, who is planning to study health and exercise science for her undergraduate degree, believes that the College Counseling class each junior is required to take makes a tremendous difference in the competitive landscape of college admissions. Juliet, who spoke to reps from Elon University and High Point University, shared that the class “taught me how to be engaging, how to make an impression, and what questions to ask to get the best sense of the school.” 

While college fairs are pretty routine at most high schools, the personalized program offered at Pennington sets a different tone. “Most times at college fairs, we don’t have any access to the counselors,” said Chris Felix, an admission representative from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, who was in attendance on Tuesday morning. “At Pennington, we have these great connections with the college counseling team, and can talk freely,” he said, before adding, “Plus the size of the program here ensures that our conversations with the students are more authentic and meaningful.” Kenyon College representative Matt McPherson, from Gambier, Ohio, echoed that sentiment: “There is a strong sense of community here,” observed McPherson. Referring to Director of College Counseling Adam Materasso, he added, “Really knowing Adam and his team means we can better help the students on their journey.” Peter Carlisle from University of Glasgow in Scotland said he always makes it a point to attend the college fair at Pennington because “the students here are always really engaged and open-minded.”

Offering advice to current sophomores who will attend a similar fair next year, Destine E. ’25 suggests that they, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Destine confessed to some initial nervousness about introducing himself and speaking with the college reps, but said that all quickly disappeared after his first conversation. He recalled tagging along with his mom and older sister years ago when she had attended college fairs: “My mom would be the one doing the talking. But here at Pennington, I have to talk for myself and make that introduction,” said Destine, who will undoubtedly benefit from this newfound confidence as he continues his college search.