Noble Students Discover New College Options at HBCU College Fair

In this graphic, you can see a photo in the background of two Muchin College Prep seniors smiling and posing in front of a booth at Noble's HBCU College Fair. On top of that image is a transparent dark blue layer. On top of that layer and in the bottom left corner is a yellow box with dark blue text on it that reads "Noble Students Discover New College Options at HBCU College Fair". The Noble Schools logo is in the bottom right corner.

Madison G and Laniya J, two best friends and seniors from Muchin College Prep, attended Noble’s annual HBCU College Fair on October 20—amped and ready to go. Prepared with a slew of insightful questions, they were two of the first students in and the last ones out.

They wandered the booths of the ten historically Black colleges and universities that showed up to the fair, held in the new Dr. Conrad Worrill Track & Field Center in the Pullman neighborhood.

Madison spent most of her time figuring out which schools offered the exact path she wanted to take—majoring in psychology while on a pre-med track. She loves learning about the brain but also wants to be able to get into the medical field as a pediatrician.

“I’m keeping in mind that I’ve made a list of things that I’m looking for specifically in schools. So, no matter how much I like a school, if they’re missing something on my list that is very important, then I cannot go to that school. I’m dedicated to that list,” Madison said.

Laniya inquired about pre-law programs as an aspiring corporate lawyer. Both she and Madison also asked tons of questions about student activities and campus life as they bounced around the booths.

In this photo, you can see Laniya and Madison listening intently to a Howard University college representative. Both of them are young Black women and are dressed nicely. Madison has on a black suit with a white blouse and Laniya is wearing a nice white sweater with jeans. They both are holding various bags and printed materials from different universities and colleges at the fair.

Laniya (left) and Madison (right) talking with a Howard University recruiter.

In this photo, you can see a handful of Noble Schools' students from different campuses looking at and grabbing printed flyers and materials at a college recruitment booth for Alabama State University, an HBCU. Behind them, you can see several other students wandering around a large indoor track field, visiting other HBCU college booths. The students most in the foreground of this photo are wearing ITW David Speer Academy sweatshirts.

ITW David Speer Academy students visiting the Alabama State University booth at the HBCU College Fair.

The HBCU College Fair was just the latest in Noble’s many opportunities to meet college recruiters and help students get a leg-up in the college application process. Over 200 students from 14 different Noble campuses mingled among the booths, chatting with recruiters. More well-known HBCUs like Howard University and Spelman College came, as well as lesser-known ones like Hampton University in Hampton, VA, and Paul Quinn College in Dallas, TX. This fair marked the third year Noble has held an HBCU College Fair—which has become an essential part of Noble’s strategy to prepare our students for college.

“My hope for continuing the HBCU College Fair is to give our Black-identifying students as much exposure to these colleges and universities as possible because they end up being really, really strong fits—based on our research,” Rachael Rosen, the pre-college & career program manager at Noble Schools, said.

Rosen noted that Illinois doesn’t have any HBCUs, so it can be hard to get representatives in front of Noble students who might be interested in attending an HBCU. The College team at Noble designed this fair as a way for students to not only get more familiar with HBCUs and the programs they offer but also to get their names and faces known by recruiters at these colleges.

Many students attending the fair appreciated the chance to talk to HBCU recruiters, students, and alumni directly. Some even walked away feeling like they had found their college match.

“I visited HU (Howard University), and I think it’s probably the one I’m gonna try to go to—hopefully,” Antwan H, a senior from Butler College Prep, said, “They talked about their med school program—which is included in their bachelor’s program—so I’ll be able to have my bachelor’s and medical degree in neural biology within six years.”

Marcellus W, a senior at Gary Comer College Prep, said he was excited about the fair because HBCUs have always been at the top of his list of schools he wants to go to.

“I’m really excited that Noble Schools hosted this fair so I can put myself out there so schools know who I am,” Marcellus said.

Paul Quinn College particularly sparked his interest because of its sports journalism opportunities.

“If I were to apply for that school, I immediately could get scholarships, and I could work for the Dallas Mavericks, the Dallas Wings, and the Dallas Cowboys,” Marcellus said.

In this photo, you can see Antwan H, a senior at Butler College Prep and a young Black man, smiling and laughing as he talks with a Butler alum at the HBCU College Fair. He is holding a big Howard University decal in his hands. Behind him and the alum, you can see other students and college representatives at the fair.

Antwan (left) talking with a Butler alum about his interest in Howard.

In this photo, you can see Marcellus W, a senior at Gary Comer College Prep, talking with a representative from Paul Quinn College. Marcellus is looking at a pamphlet the representative is holding in his hands. The representative looks like he is in mid-sentence, explaining something on the pamphlet to Marcellus. In the foreground and background of this image, you can see other students and college representatives at the fair.

Marcellus (center) talking with the Paul Quinn College representative.

Madison and Laniya had already done a ton of research on schools—they’ve even started their college applications. Still, they appreciated the opportunity to broaden their options and learn more about HBCUs and what they offer.

“I didn’t really know much about HBCUs, so being here is broadening my idea of what an HBCU really is and what my experience there would be like. I’m loving it so far,” Madison said.

“I feel like I’m learning a lot about the resources they have to offer,” Laniya said, “The college admissions officers have done a great job providing insight on my questions about political science.”

The fair was also just as enriching of an experience for the college recruiters who came.

Clarence Brown, admissions counselor at Hampton University, went out of his way to make it to Noble’s fair. Usually, he makes rounds in the South from Virginia to Texas, but he fought to get to Chicago. He had heard Hampton alumni discussing student interest in the city, especially at Noble Schools. He was glad he could make it.

“It’s been great. I’ve met a lot of good students—students with good GPAs, and students with good questions. I’ve heard a few questions that I haven’t gotten at any of my fairs that I’ve done this fall,” Brown said.

Landin Neil, the college fair chair for the Howard University Alumni Association of Chicago, was at another fair in the city when a college counselor from a Noble school approached her with an invitation. She and the other Howard University representatives were happy to accept. The Howard table was one of the most popular at the fair—with Landin and her two colleagues talking with students non-stop for the full two hours.

“It is great academically. The students are definitely eager for college—you all have set them up for success. I have no worries about them getting into any of these schools. They’re definitely in here, headstrong and asking the big questions,” Neil said.

Madison and Laniya spent a long time talking with Neil and her colleagues—right up until all the schools started packing up their tables to leave.

“I feel pretty strongly about applying to them,” Madison said. Laniya agreed.

In this photo, you can see Madison and Laniya, two seniors at Muchin College Prep, side-hugging and smiling as they pose in front of the Howard University booth at Noble Schools' HBCU College Fair. Madison is holding a big decal for Howard University right in front of her waist prominently. Laniya also is holding one but it is partially hidden. They both are holding goodie bags that have Hampton University's logo on it. Behind them, you can see Howard University college representatives talking with other Noble students.

Madison and Laniya posing in front of the Howard table.

By the end of the fair, they both felt like they had learned a lot and had a better idea of what to look for in a college. They encourage other Noble students of all grades to take advantage of the college fairs and opportunities Noble offers.

“Even if kids don’t know if they want to go to college, going to these fairs and simply seeing what these colleges have to offer helps them learn about things that could interest them,” Madison said.

“I agree with Madison, but adding on to what she said, I feel like it’s a part of self-advocacy,” Laniya said, “You might not want to apply to any of these schools, but you learn what you’re not looking for and what you are looking for—and that might help you in the future.”

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