It is time again for high school students to start thinking about their future after graduation. The Annual Abaco College Fair, organized by the Department of Education, was the event to help make up their mind about further studies and careers. Representatives from fifteen colleges and universities were on call that day to give the students brochures, answer their questions and talk to them about the programs offered in the college they represented. They also discussed the possibilities of scholarships.
Hundreds of students from seven local schools, including Moore’s Island All Age, attended the fair that was held in at the Grace Gymnasium of Agape Christian School on November 13.
After the opening ceremony formalities, highlighted by the presence of the District of Education Superintendent, Dr. Lenora Black, the students were free to visit the university booths to ask questions, fill out information forms and even register if they had already made their choices. In some cases, the registration fee was waived if they applied at the fair.
There were many opportunities presented. The possibilities of further studies in The Bahamas or going abroad, as far as Florida, Canada or New England, were explained.
Judging by the amount of inquiry forms piling up on the display tables, it seemed that a lot of Abaco students were indeed focused on their future. Two students from Agape Christian School had already made up their mind that they would go to Flagler College in Florida. Several boys from Abaco Central High School had opted for BTVI (Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute). And a girl from that same school assured her peers that she will be going to Canada. Another student, Rosemika Charles from SC Bootle High School, was looking for a college that would offer her a scholarship or the possibility to work while studying.
Most of the boys favored technical schools such as BTVI or the New England Institute of Technology.
As the representative of BTVI, Samara Sands, mentioned that the local institute is very popular primarily because of the low price of the credits that are also transferable to other colleges such as Lincoln Institute in Florida or New England Institute, as well as Fanshawe College or Lakeland College in Canada. As the only trade and vocational school in The Bahamas, the institute offers twenty eight programs registered with the Ministry of Education and students graduating from BTVI are quickly employed. The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Bahamas Telecommunication Corporation are two certain employers of BTVI students.
Many young girls inquired at the Lincoln Culinary Institute, located in West Palm Beach, FL, which was represented in the fair for the first time. The booth attendant, Erica Hepburn, mentioned that she had a lot of inquiries about international baking and pastry making. She explained that the school offers boot camps three times a year for international scholarships. Pre-Med, business and education were also among the popular subjects.
Barry University, a Liberal Arts Catholic University in Miami Shores, also appealed to a number of students. Sara Riley, who represented the school, said that approximately thirty Bahamians enrolled each year.
Malik Dajuste, with Bethune-Cookman (Daytona Beach), also mentioned the popularity of his school among Bahamians. This year, fifty-two Bahamians are attending the school. Among them nine are from Abaco. Bethune-Cookman offers a good scholarship program, ranging from $5,000.00 to $22,000.00 depending on the GPA average and the SAT results. Twenty seven Bahamians out of the fifty-two enrolled are on a scholarship program.
Another college represented for the first-time was Seneca College from Canada. That school offers over 150 programs. The school is publicly funded by the state of Ontario, so scholarships are not available. But, explained Alix Fernandez-Reyes, there were many other advantages. One of them is that students can apply for a work permit in order to finance their way through college.
Perhaps the most popular college among local students that day was the College of The Bahamas which, of course, had a presence at the fair. However, a lot of recruitment is done directly through the high schools. Applications are sent to the schools in September to be returned by the February 1 deadline.