Riley T. Brady of Bishop Shanahan High School dons his graduation gown prior to the May 16, 2019 archdiocesan convocation ceremony. Bishop Shanahan will host its 15th annual college fait Sept. 27. (Photo by Kevin Cook)

As a new academic year begins, an archdiocesan high school in Chester County is helping students prepare for life after graduation.

Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown will host its 15th annual college fair Sept. 27 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the school’s main gymnasium. The free event is open to students and families from all area Catholic, public and private high schools.

Admissions representatives from some 120 universities and colleges throughout the U.S., as well as overseas schools such as American College Dublin and University College Dublin, both in Ireland.

The information session is designed for students at all levels of their high school education, said Marie Weyback, director of college advising at Bishop Shanahan.

“Freshman and sophomore students are just starting the college process, and they can begin interacting with the colleges and see the dynamics,” she said. “By their junior year, students are already applying and making contacts, and seniors are in the middle of their applications, so for them the fair is hugely important.”

The gathering also helps colleges and universities to “put a face with the application,” she added.

As the nation emerges from COVID, students at Shanahan “are eager to go to college,” said Weyback.

“Our level of instruction did not (recede) due to COVID,” she said. “In meeting with the colleges, I was very proud of our students; their level of education had not suffered.”

By September of last year, “73% of the Shanahan Class of 2022 had already applied to college,” with the students accumulating “$49 million in scholarships,” she said.

Weyback admitted student loan debt remains “a fear with both parents and students” – but at the same time, “colleges are giving a lot of opportunities for some students to graduate without debt,” or with reduced levels of indebtedness thanks to scholarships and grants, she said.

Shanahan students generally apply to “eight to 10 schools,” enabling them “to compare offers and make prudent decisions,” said Weyback.

Along with financial readiness, college-bound students require solid academic preparation, as well as “determination and motivation to keep going,” she said.

“A strong work ethic and academic integrity” are vital, said Weyback, as is a demonstrated “commitment to community.”

“The more we can present a well-rounded student, the better results we’re going to have in terms of admissions offerings,” she said.

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For more information about the Sept. 27 Bishop Shanahan High School college fair, as well as a complete list of participating schools and universities, visit the school’s website.