The evening began with a panel featuring professionals from American institutions. Ali Edelstein from EducationUSA Belgium opened with a brief talk about studying in the U.S., including the unique aspects and benefits of US higher education and how students can connect with local EducationUSA offices to complete their applications and find funding. Following her, Father Francis Chambers from Villanova University spoke about how international students can search for the school that is the best fit for them and what factors to take into consideration during the search. After him Linda McKinnish Bridges from Wake Forest University discussed the realities of financial aid and where students should look for funding. Lastly, Erica Freund from American University briefly gave students advice on what they should ask college representatives and how to take full advantage of the college fair.
Following the panel, students moved to the main location where the representatives were set up at individual tables with information about each of their institutions. As they walked in, students were greeted by Fulbright grantees who welcomed them, providing information on all the schools present, as well as standardized tests, Fulbright programs, and embassy travel information.
Students were able to move from table to table and talk with representatives about their schools, specific programs, and the application process and what they should focus on for a successful application. Younger students attending with older siblings or parents were able to get a head start and ask about what they should focus on in the next few years in order to improve their chances for admission to American universities.
University representatives found active and engaging students who had several questions and were excited to hear about future educational opportunities abroad. In the exhibitor exit survey, university representatives indicated speaking to 23 students personally on average, and estimated that, of that number, they expected 6 students to ultimately apply. However, well-known US universities from the Northeast normally see much higher results from the event. For example, last year, 70 Belgian students applied to Northeastern University and 45 of those were admitted!
Norwich University attended the fair for the 27th time, and students were excited to see first-time participants like San Jose State University – located in Silicon Valley – and community colleges Diablo Valley Community College and Monroe College, which offer the chance to study in the US at a reduced cost.
Out of the student participants surveyed, the majority indicated hearing about Brussels College Night from a guidance counsellor or teacher, so EducationUSA Belgium would like to thank these individuals once again for their support! Their impact is especially significant since over one quarter of students indicated that their school does not have a guidance counsellor to help them navigate the US application process. Our student survey also indicated that over 60% of respondents were interested in collegiate athletics, so EducationUSA would like to welcome schools to bring more information about their NCAA sports programs in the future.
For more photos of the event, check out our photostream on Flickr.
We look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s 30th annual Brussels College Night on Monday, September 29, 2014.