Steamboat Springs Gully Stanford charmed students as fast as he could at Steamboat Springs High School's annual college fair Tuesday afternoon.
No matter what their grade or future interests, Stanford told students that now is the perfect time to prepare for higher education. Stanford, who travels across the state as the director of partnerships for the College in Colorado group, handed out fliers encouraging students to start thinking about standardized tests and begin the college application process as early as possible.
He said although Steamboat Springs has a relatively high percentage of students who attend college, the encouragement still was needed.
"There is a dropout rate even in paradise," he said. His group provides a Web site, www.collegeincolorado.org, along with support for counselors and motivational speakers "whenever two or more people are gathered in the name of education," he said.
The Council on High School and College Relations college fair is a traveling group of more than 20 college representatives who will host fairs at high schools across the state from now through late November.
Although Kathleen Dobell's junior year started only weeks ago, she said the college fair was a good way for her to plan her next two years.
"I learned about a couple colleges in Colorado I didn't know about that have majors I am interested in," she said. "It also helps me look at what I need to do better during this year and helps me set goals for standardized tests."
Stanford echoed that sentiment, emphasizing to students that his group's Web site provides free practice ACT tests.
Gayle Dudley, career and college counselor at the high school, said she encouraged all high school students and their parents to attend, even if college may be four years away.
"I'm encouraging freshmen just to see and hear (about the colleges) and to have a chance to talk to admission representatives," she said.
Dudley said she will be hosting seminars for students throughout the year and assisting them in the application process.
Although most of the colleges and universities represented were from Colorado, colleges from Wyoming, Arizona and Nebraska also hosted booths.
Jon Mires, the director of central Colorado admissions for Hastings College in Hastings, Neb., said about one third of the incoming class at his college is from Colorado.
"Steamboat has a unique mix of students," he said. "Some want to stay (close to home), some want to get to the coasts and some want to just get out and see it all."
Dudley said a Sept. 28 college fair at Aspen High School will include 180 colleges from around the nation. The school is not sponsoring a trip to the fair, she said, but all parents are encouraged to take their students.