High school requires students to make big life decisions over their school careers, not the least of which is what to do with themselves after graduation.
Juneau-Douglas High School will host its annual college fair today at Centennial Hall with 94 institutions represented, including universities, vocational training centers and military recruiters.
Seniors and juniors will be bused to the convention center to meet with representatives from all around the country between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Parents wishing to seek information about different educational and employment opportunities for their children can meet with the representatives at the same location between 5 and 6 p.m.
"I think it's really important for them to realize that there are all sorts of options," said Jami Eistetter, career adviser for JDHS. "They just need to be aware that, 'Wow, I can study such and such here in Juneau or I can go study on the East Coast.'"
Eistetter said the institutions and their offerings are broad and diverse. Alaska Vocational Technical Center, Boston University, Juneau Job Center, Alaska Army National Guard, University of Hawaii, the Air Force, University of British Columbia and Princeton University will be represented at the college fair.
Some of the students already know where they would like to attend, while others are still undecided, Eistetter said.
"It really gives them a chance to verify if that's the one they want to go to. It also gives them some other options to see where they want to go," she said.
Senior Sean Boddy, who helped coordinate the event, said he is not sure what he will do after graduation.
"Hopefully this will give me some options," he said. "Hopefully it will give everyone some options."
Boddy said he is interested in learning about colleges on the East Coast and seeing what the military could offer him.
"You can look to see what they (the military) can offer and then see what schools that would pay for. Kind of kill two birds with one stone there," he said.
Eistetter said students should be "keeping all their options open and really doing some thorough research."
She said she encourages students and parents to get all the pertinent information at the college fair regarding tuition, application deadlines, fees, prerequisites and other specific information.
The fair is a good chance for juniors and their parents to start planning for the future, said Eistetter.
Boddy said he was able to find out a lot of information as a junior about the different universities' academic programs, as well as social and cultural information about the cities and regions where the campuses are located.
"All the representatives that I spoke with last year seemed to have some great information," he said. "They could tell you a little bit of everything you needed to know."
Eistetter said she expects representatives from the University of Alaska Southeast will get plenty of questions today from those who might stay in Juneau after graduation or those who wish to stay in the state.
"I have talked to a number of students who are looking at University of Alaska as a really viable selection," she said.
UAS spokesman Kevin Myers said it is easy for students to overlook a hometown university when they desire to leave town after graduation. He said UAS is a good option for students wanting to get their general education requirements out of the way before they dive into a major.
"When they really look at it, I think we match up very well with a lot of other public universities," he said.
Myers said students planning to stay in Alaska might consider studying marine science, writing, cold weather construction and more.
"Our business programs are geared toward Alaska Business," he said. "If people want to make their life here, UAS is a good place to start."
Eistetter said those wishing to go back to school, or even extra-ambitious middle school students, should attend alongside the high school students and their parents this evening.
"Bring your kids and your questions and make it a family event because education has to be an investment," she said.
Eric Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.