A junior at Cross Creek High School, Kariah Kelly still has two years before she starts college but she’s already planning for her future.
The 16-year-old intends to pursue a business degree in hopes of opening her own salon one day. She and her mother, Kiva Kelly, were among thousands of other high school students and parents who attended the 20th annual CSRA College Night at James Brown Arena on Thursday to learn more about prospective colleges throughout the country.
Recruiters from about 150 colleges and universities spanning Augusta to Irvine, Calif., filled both levels of the arena. Dozens of other organizations geared at guiding students as they enter the next stage of their academic careers also had booths and exhibits set up inside the Augusta venue.
“It’s very inspirational to know that they are worried about our education,” Kariah said.
Kariah and her mother first stopped at Alabama A&M University, where they picked up an application and brochures on the school’s programs of study.
Kariah said she hasn’t yet decided on where she’d like to go, but one factor ranks high on her school must-have list.
“I’m very big on school spirit because that’s what makes a school,” she said.
Kiva Kelly said she was impressed with both the turnout and the representation from universities across the U.S.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” the Augusta resident said. “For one, it’s free, and not only that, it’s your child’s education.”
The program offered attendees several educational services, such as gleaning information on state and national scholarships, financial aid and essay writing for college admissions, scholarships and joint enrollment. In addition, students could access a counseling center for advice on the college application process.
Eligible high school juniors, seniors and graduates also registered to win scholarships that totaled about $15,000.
The event is sponsored by the Savannah River Operations office of the U.S. Department of Energy, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and various other local companies and educational organizations. Last year, the event attracted 6,000 local students, parents and guidance counselors.
Brannon Sell, an alumni representative for Wake Forest University, said he expected to see about 700 visitors inquire about the Winston-Salem, N.C., private liberal arts university.
“It’s hard to go travel around and see as many schools as you might want to look at,” he said. “You can come here and actually ask questions.”
Sell said many people seemed most interested to learn that the school only has about 4,800 students but boasts an NCAA Division 1 athletic program. That and the university doesn’t require SAT scores.
For Honoria Robertson, 16, the event gave her a chance to visit her top collegiate choice, Georgia Tech, in person.
With aspirations of becoming a chemical engineer, the Evans High School junior also talked with representatives at Augusta Technical College to get a feel for her local options.
“I’m just kind of seeing what my options are that way I can figure out what else I need to do to help prepare me for college,” she said.