Huntsville city schools connecting students with colleges & careers

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville City Schools decided to make the week following the Labor Day holiday all about that next step; life after high school.

It's all part of college and career connection week in the district where all schools and grade levels are participating in activities to encourage students to think ahead toward higher education and ultimately, jobs.

It's a time to get even elementary and middle school students thinking ahead. But Thursday was a big day for Huntsville seniors and juniors.

"We are providing our juniors and seniors today with the opportunity to network with over 100 colleges, "explains Huntsville City School Counseling Coordinator Donna Clark.

"We know that some seniors have made up their mind but we also know that some seniors have not decided."

Expo organizers also brought together representatives from 16 career clusters - local companies ready for an influx of new talent.

"There's this thing after college called a career that we really need to think about - it's not just a matter of going to college so we are trying to get students to think beyond these 4 years of college," Clark says.

Clark explains the premise behind the expo is for students to make connections between their education and what will sustain the rest of their lives.

"We want good people to come back and be productive citizens in our community as well, so our businesses really like it because these are their future employees."

Sheri Crigger, a Grissom High School Guidance Counselor, says seniors shouldn't fear the application process.

"There are a lot of school that the application process can literally be done in an hour or less; and so I think we have dramatized in some ways this 'scary' application process and it's not always that way," assures Crigger. "I think in general in the whole process, information can help us feel a little better if we just knew what it was going to look like."

Crigger is also currently encouraging her senior students to take the ACT or SAT one more time.

"Scholarships and admission can depend on that score - the difference in 2 points on the ACT could be the difference in $10,000," she says.

Seniors will have those opportunities to test again coming up in October and again in November.

Crigger also recommends staying reminded of deadlines. She says most colleges want all materials submitted by December or January at the latest.

"If you can kind of look at it and maybe make out a timeline so that you're not doing everything -- it doesn't have to be done tomorrow, we've got time, but we can't wait months."

Madison County Schools' juniors and seniors will have opportunity for face time with college recruiters at the expo Friday.