Norwin school district expands scope of college, career event

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 3:18 p.m.

Preparing students for success in college, trade school or the work force is one of the Norwin School District's top priorities, school officials say.

But offering a solid curriculum and setting high academic standards might not necessarily help them navigate the myriad of details and choices they will face after leaving high school.

To help ease the transition after graduation, the district is expanding its college-night event to include the military and other career choices.

“In previous years, we invited a representative from one of our local colleges to talk to 11th-graders about the admissions application process,” said Kim Thorsen, a Norwin High School guidance counselor.

“But we've found that one of the things students don't realize is that the moment they step into high school, they should be thinking about what their end game is. We felt that this fair would be a good way to help them start planning for what comes after high school.”

The “Kick Off to College, Careers and More” event at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the high school cafeteria will include representatives from nearly two dozen educational institutions, as well as the military and work-force-development agencies.

Several of Norwin's Advanced Placement teachers will be on hand to discuss the courses they offer.

Heather Kabala, director of admissions for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, which will have a representative at the fair, applauded the district for expanding the event.

“There are a lot of really big college fairs out there, but those events can be really overwhelming for some students,” she said. “I think it's a great idea to have an event at the district level because it gives students a chance to have more interaction with the representatives who are attending.”

In addition to providing students with information about what the university has to offer, the fair will be a good opportunity for representatives to guide students on how best to prepare for college.

“We try to talk to the younger students about academic preparation,” Kabala said.

“It's important for them to be making good choices about the classes they take during high school so that they are challenging themselves.”

James Pirlo, an admissions coordinator for the Westmoreland County Community College, said events such as the one planned in Norwin can help students focus on their future.

“Whether it's a two-year track, four years or a trade school, it's very important to show students early in their high school career the various options available to them,” he said.

“For instance, if someone expresses interest in going into the health care field or engineering, we try to discuss the kind of programs they will be studying in college and what they should be doing in high school to prepare for them.”

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