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Free virtual college fair for Hawaii students set for Saturday

A virtual college fair will be held Saturday to help Hawaii students and their families learn about the admissions process and explore a wide range of colleges from here to Paris — without leaving their homes.

The online event is sponsored by the Hawaii Association for College Admission Counseling. Farris James, the association’s president, said the fair is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic when many students are stuck at home.

“I think the main thing is by learning about possible futures, it plants seeds of hope for kids, and we really need that right now,” James said. “We want to get the word out. Many kids aren’t in school — how are they going to bump into that counselor who nudges them in the right direction?”

The event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free but registration is required. The morning offers general information sessions on topics such as changes in college admissions; timelines; college essay writing; financial aid; and the Western Undergraduate Exchange which offers discounted tuition at certain mainland colleges.

“Families really need information on financial aid,” James said. “That’s why we are doing a financial aid workshop.”

The afternoon, 1-4 p.m., will feature presentations by 150 colleges and universities, via webinar-style sessions that will allow students to ask questions. Each session will have six-minute presentations by six colleges, followed by a Q&A session.

Students who participate live will be able to ask questions. Those who register for a session but are unable to attend may view a recording later.

“I think it’s harder than ever for kids to conceptualize what it means to go to college,” James said. “Our families in Hawaii need it more than maybe anyone on the continent. We have an ocean and now we have COVID. We have so many barriers.”

The colleges attending the fair want to recruit students from Hawaii and include in-state, national as well as international institutions. They range from Lewis & Clark in Oregon to Penn State University, and campuses as far-flung as the American University of Paris and Temple University in Japan.

Normally the fair is held at the Hawaii Convention Center with smaller events on the Neighbor Islands. The virtual event will reach students statewide.

“For the Neighbor Island kids, this is a much bigger fair than they’ve ever experienced,” James said.

To register, visit www.strivescan.com/hawaii.

More information is online at the association’s website, hawaiiacac.wildapricot.org/.

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