The 2022 Joint College Fair’s Return To In-Person


After a year of virtual college fairs, students were anxious to return to in-person (Photo courtesy of PDS Communications)

Addison Figel, Online Staff Writer

On Tuesday, April 19, and on Wednesday April 20, The PDS Junior Class of 2023 joined  the Stuart Junior class for the annual College Fair. Over the course of both days students visited 110 colleges ranging from California to Scotland.

The college fair with Stuart is an annual occurrence; however, in  the spring of 2020,  the college fair was canceled due to the pandemic, and last year, it was hosted virtually. Along with being smaller, it was more of a breakout room style session. Last year, the college fair was split into two groups, with each group meeting with around 50 distinct colleges before switching to visit the other 50. Assistant Director of College Counseling Darling Cerna noted, “It was still great, but it was just so different from talking to people in person.” This year’s college fair was the first in-person fair since the spring of 2019. PDS College Counselor Ms. Anderson also stated, “We found that students responded really well to the in person fair, made really good use of their time and went up and had engaging conversations with a lot of different colleges. I think another benefit to the in person fair was being able to make decisions in the moment rather than having to plan ahead to which group you were going to go to and intentionally sign up online. This college fair was very much more fluid where students could pick and choose during the course of the whole hour and speak to a lot of different people in that time.” Additionally, Ms. Cerna added, “This was our first one since spring 2019 in person, so this was really exciting.” The PDS-Stuart college fair is part of a larger event where the same group of colleges attend college fairs across many  Princeton area high schools, such as Princeton High School, Hun, The Lawrenceville School, and The Pennington School. 

Attending college fairs is a great way to start conversations with colleges, but during the fall semester, PDS also hosts colleges to talk with the students in a more individualized format. Students over the course of their college process have different chances to talk to college representatives. These college fairs are just the first touchpoint. In addition to PDS students getting to learn about various different colleges, the college fair is a great way for the school representatives to learn more about the PDS Student body. Ms. Anderson says, “We got a lot of wonderful feedback from the representatives that they loved getting to talk to our students, and our students really represented themselves and the school really well.” Ms. Cerna says, “I think that I would also add that one thing as we were talking to juniors after the college fair is they really loved being able to talk to schools in person that they might not get to visit for a very long time. So without necessarily having to get on a flight and go to California, there were a few California schools here, so I think that we obviously also have that advantage on Zoom but it’s just nicer and it’s the one opportunity you get to kind of then figure what kind of colleges you liked hearing from and then which ones is it worth making the trip for then. Like, which ones do I like and then go visit, so I think that’s one of the benefits. It’s sort of like an initial like browsing of the colleges.” While the PDS Class of 2023 experienced their first college fairs, their college counseling process still has a lot more in store.