More than 110 representatives of colleges, universities and military branches set up in North Point High School’s gym Sept. 17 to talk to high school juniors and seniors about the future. Students from each of the county’s seven high schools spent the morning and afternoon visiting the 21st annual Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) College Fair. And while students can get information at any time by typing a phrase or two into a search bar, nothing beats face-to-face communication with people who know the ins and outs of a school.

More benefits of attending the college fair?

“One-on-one conversations,” Aniyah Williams said.

“Asking direct questions,” said Cierra Wilson.

“You learn firsthand information about a college,” Jordan Parker added.

The three Maurice J. McDonough High School seniors have an idea of where they each want to study, but the fair opened their eyes to schools that might be worth a closer look. “I know what colleges I’m interested in,” Williams said. “But I saw some names here that I’m going to look up when I get home.”

College fairs allow students and parents the opportunity to get facetime with a person who is familiar with a school, Molly Serpi, an admissions counselor at Mount St. Mary’s University, explained. “With the internet, you can get inundated with information,” she said. Students can also compare and contrast colleges. “One student asked how we compare to McDaniel,” Serpi said.

This year, 115 colleges registered to present at the fair including nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). For the day session, 1,811 students attended with 1,000 people stopping by in the evening which included financial aid workshops headed by Christian Zimmerman, director of financial aid at the College of Southern Maryland.

The event also gives undecided students someplace to start. Krissia Arana Lopez, a St. Charles High School senior, doesn’t know where she wants to go to study communications. “I’m undecided. I don’t know where I’m going to be,” she said. “I came here to focus on what schools are perfect for me.”