CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 16, 2016) -- Camp Zama students gathered for a college fair Nov. 10 at Zama American High School to meet one-on-one with 25 representatives from colleges, universities and the U.S. Military.
Child, Youth and School Services, along with school counselors, worked collaboratively to host this annual event, providing students opportunities to prepare for higher education, said Robert Chance, school liaison officer for CYSS.
"This type of event should be offered because… we're overseas," said Chance. "We're in location where these colleges would never have any contact with these students unless they went … back to the States."
Students stopped by various stations to speak with the representatives, asking questions and collecting information about the schools.
"I'm trying to figure out which college is best for me to go to," said James Carr, senior at ZAHS.
"This is one of the major ways you actually can look out there…it's a bunch of different colleges that you may not have heard about … all represented right here …that way you know what's offered," said Carr.
As part of a college readiness program called Advancement via Individual Determination, middle school students participated in the fair to learn early how to prepare for college.
"It's always good to prepare, and by knowing this at an early age, it could boost you up," said Naomi Starr, 7th-grader at ZAMS "So, when you're in college, it won't be as difficult, or as hard, and you know what to expect."
The fair was also opened to parents and many came out to support their children.
"I think it's beneficial for the kids," said Trent Carr, parent who attended with his son, James Carr. "This type of environment helps kids establish that relationship with the schools and gets out the information more on a personal level."
Many volunteers from the Camp Zama community were present to serve as alumni representatives on behalf of their schools.
There was also Caleb Carter -- a 2016 graduate of ZAHS and freshman studying international business at Temple University's Japan Campus -- who volunteered to come back to support the fair.
Carter said he wanted to come back and share his experiences with his school mates and other students in the Camp Zama community.
He also said it was his love for Japan that led him to pursue higher learning at TU's Japan Campus.
"After living here for so long and experiencing the culture, I wouldn't want to go back (to the U.S.) too soon," he said.
Carter said the best advice he could give for those coming to college is to "do your homework," explaining that you have to work hard because students do not have "their parents" to push them.
The college fair concluded with light refreshments courtesy of CYSS.
Plans are underway to offer the college fair twice a year -- in the fall and spring -- providing more opportunities for students to prepare for post-secondary education, according to Robert Chance.
"The more opportunities that kids have to actually talk to college reps … will help prepare them better," said Chance.