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Weighing the options

College reps make pitches to students at Pilot Point High

Recruiters from over 100 universities, institutions and trade schools flooded Pilot Point High School Tuesday afternoon, beckoning students to come and learn about a multitude of programs with colorful banners, informational booklets and free gear.

“It’s a good way for our students to see the options out there,” said Kevin Moffitt, head counselor at PPHS. “The world is a big place, and hosting recruiters from a variety of universities makes students realize—yes, you can go to LA. You can go to Florida. There are opportunities everywhere.”

College Day at PPHS is an annual tradition, its goal exactly what Moffitt said: To give students the chance to see just how many possibilities there are after high school.

Moffitt referenced one particular student who’s always dreamed of pursuing higher education in jewelry design. The student looked at schools in the area and determined that the University of North Texas was their only option until they learned of a fine arts university in L.A.

“Sometimes when these students think of college, they think of universities they’re familiar with—Tarleton, A&M, UNT,” Moffitt said. “Those are all great schools, definitely. But there are other options.”

Ninety-nine universities, institutions and trade schools signed up to recruit at PPHS, and several more turned out unannounced. The fact that so many recruiters return to court Pilot Point students into their programs means the school is doing something right, Moffitt said.

This year, Pilot Point is also encouraging students who make the decision to forgo higher education and go straight into the workforce. Typically, seniors at PPHS are given two free days to tour colleges. That rule has been amended so that seniors can either tour colleges or use the two days to job shadow instead.

Lovebirds and classmates Cynthia Palomo and Daniel Gonzalez were taking advantage of the variety of options showcased at the event. They were bright-eyed and giggly while zipping in and out of booths together, hand-in-hand. The two are juniors now, but already have an idea of what their future looks like.

For Palomo, the next chapter of life will hopefully bring a degree in accounting from Dallas Community College.

“Looking at all the schools here helped me get an idea of what the experiences are like at colleges I never knew about,” she said. “It also helped me look at colleges I could afford, which is part of the reason I chose to go to community college first.”

Despite the couple’s attraction to each other, they don’t plan on taking the same path after graduation. In fact, Gonzalez said he’d like very much to get into trade school, instead.

“I’m still looking,” he said. “But I think I’d really like something car related.”

Across the gym, other students were talking with the Army and fire department, learning about what it takes to make it in their high-intensity line of work.

A few students even decided to drop down and put their athletic abilities to the test.

Many of the recruiters that showed up Tuesday came as a part of TACRAO, the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. The group hits several schools per day but the members usually stick to a central area.

Steven Harris, an admissions officer at Southeastern University in Durant, said TACRAO recruiters in the area typically work a two-week circuit, traveling up and down U.S. 75 to visit schools in North Texas and Oklahoma.

“Today, we saw a lot of younger students who didn’t quite know what they want to major in,” Harris said. “It’s interesting to see them searching, which works out well because we have so many different options.”

Students in all grade levels are allowed to go to College Day. Freshman don’t typically have their collegiate goals mapped out yet, Harris said, but exposing them to a variety of programs early on can be beneficial in the long run.

Harris noticed something else different about Pilot Point, as well:

“They fed us,” he said. “And it was fantastic.”

The entire campus works together to make the annual day a success. The culinary students prepare lunch for the recruiters, teachers temporarily donate their tables for the event and off-season athletes do the heavy lifting during set up. Student workers and office aids make sure everything stays organized and cheerleaders greet recruiters at the door while directing students to the booths.

“It’s a campus-wide endeavor,” Moffitt said. “We couldn’t do it without everyone.”

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