Red Cloud Hosts National College Fair for Community

posted October 27, 2014

This past week, hundreds of students from across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation traveled to the Red Cloud Indian School campus to attend the school's first national college fair.

The Fair featured dozens of colleges from South Dakota and across the mid-west, as well as representatives from trade schools and branches of the military. The event was eagerly attended by five reservation schools. Nakina Mills, Red Cloud's director of student advancement and alumni support says that previously, students were forced to travel upwards of 100 miles to attend a college fair and often at great cost. Disappointed with the status quo, Mills began working last year to bring the event to the students.

"Students need to see what schools are available and interact with people in person to really find out what they want to do after high school." said Mills. "It's also important for students to have the opportunity to present themselves and communicate with professionals. It's an opportunity to think about, and practice for their future."

When some students heard there would be a college fair, right on campus, they were surprised.

"Honestly, I didn't expect this. I just thought it would be a small presentation," said Jashon, a senior at Red Cloud. "But, there was a lot of young, interesting people who wanted to talk to us. I found out that South Dakota State University is the only school in the area with my major: Architecture. Now I know were to apply!"

As Jashon walked down the busy aisles, he stopped at the tables that caught his eye and showed his registration packet to the representatives for them to scan. The South Dakota College Board, which helps organize these events, now  provides registrants with a individualized bar code that when scanned, loads the student's information into a database allowing the college to follow up with the student directly—and the student to keep track of the schools they visited with.

Christian, also a senior at Red Cloud, had already applied to South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota prior to the Fair and thought he had a good sense of what was available. However, during one of his table visits, Christian struck up a conversation with a representative from a school he'd never heard of: Dakota State.

"This was cool. I didn't know there were so many other colleges in the area," said Christian. "I had never heard of Dakota State before, and they seemed really interesting to me. I learned that there is a small freshman class and I like that. They also focus on computer sciences—I'm pretty sure I want to major in that—so, yeah, I enjoyed this, it definitely helped me consider more options."

Mills notes that one of the most important aspects of the college fair is exposure. The Fair is an opportunity to expand the students understanding of what is available and what is possible. And she's hoping to make this event a regular one.

"I'd like this to be a yearly thing from now on." said Mills. "I also plan to involve more and more of the community. Usually college fairs are targeted at high school students, but I think it's important to start young and get middle schools involved too. The more that we can get students thinking about their bright futures, the better."


Learn more about Red Cloud's Student Advancement Program


Photos © 2014 Red Cloud Indian School, Inc.