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Chesapeake's College Night draws packed house

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Salisbury University Counselor Matthew Meekins, left, discusses the advantages of attending Salisbury with Easton High juniors Rachel Stagg, center, and Lyn Midcap. 

WYE MILLS – It’s not that high school students – and their parents – don’t want a good college education.

They just want to make sure they get a good deal, too.

Students and parents alike grilled college admissions representatives Wednesday night at Chesapeake College’s 28th Annual Eastern Shore College Night. In turn, the college reps tried to impress those attending with the quality of their institution and the value to be received from their tuition dollars.

"Cost isn’t making the final decision, but it’s certainly a factor in the decision," said Loretta Cook, assistant director of admissions for St. Mary’s College, and one of nearly 100 college representatives in attendance at College Night. "Other key factors are if the college has the right program, and can offer proof that their child is going to be successful, complete the program and either gain employment or get into graduate school."

Matthew Meekins, an admissions counselor with Salisbury University, said Salisbury’s annual in-state tuition and fees (currently $15,120) makes SU particularly attractive in a tough economy.

"It (the challenging economy) has actually benefited us since we feature one of the lowest tuitions in the state," said Meekins. "We’ve seen a definite increase in application volume over the last two years. Last year, we had 7700 freshmen and about 3,000 transfer students apply for admission."

Aundra Weissert, assistant director of admissions at Washington College, said dealing with parents looking for the best deal isn’t unusual for her.

"For a private school cost is always a consideration," said Weissert. "We’re seeing more students going to a community college for a year and finishing at Washington College. We’re also doing a lot more with financial aid for returning students to work with them to help them stay in school." Mindy Schaffer, Chesapeake’s director of financial aid, said the college’s financial aid table received a steady stream of questions. Many of the questions concerned "how to apply for the presidential scholarship," which is the full tuition, fees and book scholarship available to the top graduating senior from each high school in Chesapeake’s five-county service region.

"I had a lot of parents and students asking about transfer opportunities," said Kathy Petrichenko, Chesapeake’s dean for recruitment services. "They also wanted to know a lot about our general education courses and of course dual enrollment."

While price point may be a major parental consideration, students had other litmus tests for colleges.

"I learned a lot about the colleges that have my major," said Rebecca Phillips, a Queen Anne’s County High student, who plans to major in business management for non-profit organizations. "It’s really beneficial to have so many schools here to help me zero in on the right college."

Phillips’ father, Richard, agreed.

"We were able to look at a lot of colleges in a short amount of time," said Richard Phillips.

"I’m looking for a big school with good sports teams," said Bradley Davis, a Kent Island High School junior who hopes to play baseball in college. "I’m looking at states that are fairly close, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

Rachel Stagg, an Easton High junior, said location and academic program were at the top of her list in college considerations.

"I’m looking for a nursing program that’s close. I don’t want to go too far from home," said Stagg, whose older sister, Jordan, is a Chesapeake College student planning on a nursing career.

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