Westminster Academy Presents Florida Christian College Fairs in September

Representatives from Christian colleges across the country will descend on South Florida in September to meet with graduating seniors and juniors at two Florida Christian College Fairs presented by Westminster Academy before continuing on to six other Florida cities: Naples, Fort Myers, Tampa, Clearwater, Orlando and Jacksonville.

The first College Fair will be held on Monday, September 13 at Westminster Academy, 5601 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. A second College Fair will be held at Calvary Christian Academy, Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, September 14 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

Westminster Academy Talks College Fair

Donna Payner, College Fair Circuit Coordinator and Director of College Planning at Westminster Academy, said “The purpose of the college fair is to connect Christian students from covenant families to Christian colleges where they can continue their education in a place that’s teaching biblical worldview.”

At Westminster Academy, the high school students are sent down from their classes to attend the fair.  Then Sheridan Hills Christian School, Boca Raton Christian School and Highlands Christian Academy all bring their juniors and seniors to the College Fair at Westminster Academy to meet with representatives. Payner said homeschool students are also welcome to attend; however, they need to contact the guidance counselor at the host school in advance to gain access.

College Fairs can be a terrific opportunity for potential college students to pick up information on a variety of schools, introduce themselves to representatives and have their questions answered.

Preparation in advance is critical. “I have personal meetings with each one of my seniors to talk about what’s financially realistic for their families, whether they want to stay in-state or go out-of-state and what are they ultimately looking for in a college,” said Payner. “Every family is looking for different things and has different financial situations they have to consider. Once they’ve expressed those then I try to guide them toward colleges.”

Because the representatives who are travelling here are often the ones who are opening applications and making admissions decisions, it is important that the students be prepared to ask good questions beyond what can be found just on the website. So students should do some research ahead of time on what colleges they may be interested in finding out more about.

While there will be a lot of students, hopefully they can find a way to connect and be memorable. They will be filling out information cards and usually those representatives themselves will following up with the students they meet.


How can students prepare?

  • Explore the list of colleges that are coming and go to those college websites.
  • Look for which colleges offer the major they think they want to study.
  • Consider the location and whether or not that’s a realistic location.
  • Find a question that’s not easily answered on the website to ask the college representative.
  • Determine whether the activities you’re interested in are available at the college.
  • Factor in the cost and what type of financial ad may be needed.
  • Get organized in advance with your questions on a notepad.
  • Prioritize which colleges you are most interested in and visit their booths first.
  • Speak up and dress for success. Like in an interview, this is your opportunity to get the questions answered that will help you make a good decision about your future. Be Assertive and professional.


Colleges registered to attend

Anderson University, S.C.

Bob Jones University

Brevard College

Calvin University

Cedarville University

Charleston Southern University

Columbia International University

Covenant College

Geneva College

Gordon College

Houghton College

Johnson University Florida

Lee University

Liberty University

Lipscomb University

Messiah University

Mississippi College

Montreat College

Moody Bible Institute

North Greenville University

Ocean’s Edge University

Ohio Christian University

Oral Roberts University

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Regent University

Samford University

South Florida Bible College

Southeastern University

Taylor University

The Baptist College of Florida

Toccoa Falls College

Trinity Baptist College

Trinity College of Florida

Trinity International University – Florida

Truett McConnell University

Waynesburg University

Wheaton College

Word of Life Bible Institute

There may be some additional colleges not listed above in attendance as well.


How can parents help?

It is important for the student to know themselves and for a parent to know their child. Consider how well they adjust to new situations and how resilient they are.

Perhaps the biggest tip Payner provides parents, however,  is to communicate with their child about what is realistic for their family. Is it realistic financially for you to go to a private college? “It’s important for parents and students to have a conversation about what is realistic before your start filling out applications because it can be devastating to get into one of your top choice colleges just for your parents to say, ‘I’m sorry honey we can’t afford this.’”

Then talk about whether they want to be in-state or out of state. “Really narrow it down because location makes a huge difference,” said Payner. “If it’s hard to get back and forth from a place and a student is homesick that could make a big difference on whether they stay there and finish, whether they’re successful. Climate makes a huge difference, especially for students from Florida who are not used to the cold.”

When it comes to financial aid, Payner suggest students apply to colleges early, get accepted early and complete their FAFSA early because that puts them in line for the money that is given away on a first come first served basis.

She suggests having these conversations the summer before their junior and senior year and being ready to finish college applications by November 1. “That’s going to put you in a better place for scholarships. The majority of the scholarships are going to come from the colleges themselves, and students will be assessed for those scholarships based on their application. Sometimes there’s a secondary process where they have to apply to certain scholarships separately from their application even still, they have to have been accepted to the college first in order to apply for that scholarship. So that’s the biggest tip I have is do you applications early.”

If you do not attend one of the high schools the Florida Christian College Fairs are visiting, you may still be able to attend; however, please contact the guidance counselor at the host school to gain access.

For more Out & About, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/topic/news/local/

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