A virtual college and career exploration program for all Missouri high school students is being co-chaired by Pattonville High School college and career preparation coordinator and counselor Ms. Michelle Luraschi.
The free four-week program will feature 180 virtual sessions on college planning, career information, financial aid and scholarships, military options, skilled trades, first responder careers, non-college training programs and more. Students should register for each session that they want to attend. Once they register, they’ll receive a confirmation email with their unique link to join the Zoom webinar.
“Students, families and high school counselors can tune in to these sessions for free and they can see as many as they want,” said Luraschi, who volunteers as the college fairs co-chair on the executive board of the Missouri Association for College Admission Counseling (MOACAC). “All of the sessions will be recorded and then posted and housed on our MOACAC website through the fall so that students can come back if they missed something and counselors can use them as content for future school day lessons and when meeting with students.”
Every session is moderated by a high school or college volunteer and will be presented as a webinar rather than a meeting.
“The 45 minute live, interactive sessions will be hosted on Zoom in the evenings and on weekends with the purpose that students will not have to miss school to attend,” Luraschi said. “Students and families should join the live sessions because they will be able to ask questions through a Q&A, but because this is a webinar, the presenters will not see or hear the participants and we like that because families can feel safe while they're participating.”
Normally, over 70 college fairs are held statewide including one at Pattonville High School. Due to Covid-19, she had to pivot her plans and created this virtual event along with her co-chair, Andrew Laue from Webster University.
“Students will still be able to get a lot of information without having to leave their home,” she said. “Colleges will be presenting as if they were sitting across the table from you or touring you around campus and we may have tours of skilled trades facilities or the firehouse up the street. It's really up to the individual presenters to design their presentation. There may even be a mascot showing up or there might be a student panel, a president of an institution or a high-ranking employee; it’s really up to them.”
While this state-wide program is what Luraschi is directing all current students toward for information, she is still programming some things exclusively for Pattonville families.
“I do have workshops planned but this virtual program is the main thing and then I'm going to supplement around it,” she said. “I am planning to do a Financial Aid 101 presentation in partnership with UMSL’s financial aid office on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. exclusively for Pattonville.”
Education is having to adjust because of Covid.
“The Class of 2021 is particularly going to be impacted,” Luraschi said. “I personally have a senior this year so it's really striking me close to home, but we just have to make sure they are ready for whatever they want to do after high school.”
September 13-17 — Planning for Your College Search: College Knowledge and Information Panels
“This is a great week to start with because it's meant to help students who maybe don't know where to start with a college search from their couch to get a broad base of what's out there. They can attend information sessions on how to write an essay, find out what A+ is and what’s involved in going to the community college, and learn more about what financial aid is and how to apply for it. They're very broad topics that are meant to inform them and will be presented by people that can help. They may know they want to go to a big state school, but they don't know which one; well, here are eight of them who will be presenting in this session and you'll get a smorgasbord of information.”
September 21-24; September 27-October 1; October 6-8 — Individual College Presentations
“Weeks 2 and 3 will be individual college information sessions, so you can sign up to meet with Mizzou, Notre Dame. Pepperdine, or the University of Alabama. We have schools from across the country, and we have schools from the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as the community college from down the street. We really do have something for everyone.”
October 4-5 — Individual Presentations for Military Enlistment, Skilled Trades, Career Planning, Gap Year Programs, For-Profit Institutions, Non-College Organizations
“The fourth week, we have two days there where we will be focused on non-university options. These will be sessions on becoming electrical contractors or getting a job in heating ventilation repair. We have The Academy of Pet Careers attending and we have a couple of career exploration programs where you can learn about becoming a first responder, going to work at Boeing, or starting a career in health care. We have the Marines and the Missouri National Guard set up and also cosmetology schools, so there's a little bit of everything Oct. 4-5 and that is really perfect for those students that know they don't want to go to a university but they still need training to start a career.”