Potomac High School students who attended the college fair

Potomac High School recently hosted 75 juniors and seniors at the 21st annual Alfred Street Baptist Church HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) College Fair in Springfield, Virginia. The college fair is aimed at connecting high school students and their families to HBCUs and scholarship opportunities. Approximately 80 colleges and universities were represented at the festival with many providing on-the-spot admission decisions, conducting music auditions, and waiving application fees. Since 2003, this college fair has connected more than 60,000 attendees to academic institutions.

At the college fair, Potomac High students spoke with college recruiters and learned more about the HBCU experience at on-site seminars. They brought back more than 150 acceptances from over 20 colleges and universities, including Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University, and Howard University, to name a few. Six students also received full-ride scholarships from Philander College. Many students were elated to receive college acceptances and scholarship opportunities after just one conversation with a college recruiter. Potomac College and Career Counselor Shallene Austin and Potomac English Teacher Daquan Simmons organized the trip to the college fair.

“The Alfred Street Baptist Church HBCU College Fair is an amazing event. Students who have an extended, or a limited knowledge of HBCUs can explore the specific academic offerings of each institution, hear about their historical foundations, and witness the overall importance of musical and social bonds that exist within,” said Austin. “Students leave with a greater understanding of how HBCUs foster academic excellence and evoke a sense of unity, rich culture, and tradition. Many students expressed that attending the fair introduced them to colleges they never knew existed, and as a result their options have increased.”

Weeks before the HBCU college fair, Austin and Simmons organized an HBCU panel session for their students. Several faculty members, who attended HBCUs, sat on the panel and had an open discussion about the significance of students attending HBCUs. The panelists allowed the students and parents to ask questions about the HBCU experience (i.e. Greek life, student activities, campus life, etc.), and offered advice. D Simmons graduated from Elizabeth City State University, an HBCU in North Carolina. He’s passionate about connecting his students to HBCUs and helping them achieve their dreams.

“Throughout my work, I have assisted hundreds of students in getting into HBCUs,” said Simmons. “My time at an HBCU provided me with a fresh perspective on my identity and goals. It has been my passion to provide students with a platform to learn more about HBCUs and the college experience. I want to continue forward with educating students, offering resources, and potentially creating a non-profit organization to mentor students and help with their future goals and careers.”

In the spring, Potomac students will have the opportunity to attend the school’s annual college tour throughout the state. Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, James Madison University, and Radford University are a few of the schools they typically visit during the tour. Between college tours, fairs, and panels, staff members are making sure they’re doing everything in their power to create opportunities for our students to thrive.

C.D. Hylton High School students also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from HBCUs. Take a look at their college fair.