CHOICES: Jewish College Fair Set for later this month

BY JILL KASSANDER

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

High school sophomores, juniors and seniors and their parents will be able to visit with representatives from 60 colleges and universities from around the country at CHOICES: Jewish College Fair 2006 on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2-4 p.m. at Temple Israel. This is the ninth year for the annual free fair, which is sponsored by the Central Agency for Jewish Education. It offers students and parents an opportunity to get an inside look at college life from a Jewish perspective.

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Every year the fair has grown and offered something new since its inception.

One of those new additions will be found at the Israel table.

“In the past, we tended to focus on summer Israel programs only,” said CHOICES coordinator Karen Rader. This year students will be able to learn about the many gap-year programs available.

Said Rader, “We will have information about four or five programs in addition to the many yeshiva and seminary programs available.”

Participating in gap-year programs has become very popular with many recent high school graduates. The gap-year is the year between high school and college. Several of the programs offer leadership training and include college credits. “It’s an opportunity to unpack your bags and really get to know Israel. You go on field trips, learn about and truly live in the land of Israel,” Rader said.

Another new feature at the fair this year will be offered by St. Louis Hillel. They are setting up a table to allow students and parents to get in-depth information about Hillel programs at colleges and universities around the country. There will be computer access available offering students and parents up-to-date information.

While many local high schools offer college fairs, only CHOICES gives students and parents a chance to truly explore the Jewish aspects of attending a particular college or university. “It was important to me to hear about the Jewish opportunities at the different colleges,” said Andy Shapiro, a 2005 Parkway North High School graduate who attended the fair last year.

“We’ve added several colleges this year which have a high percentage of Jews in their population. Representatives from the colleges attending our fair, know our participants are going to come asking questions focusing on Jewish aspects of college life,” Rader said. Many local parents and alumni will also be on hand to answer questions.

Networking is another important aspect of CHOICES. The distinctly local Jewish flavor of the fair often finds students and parents comparing notes about the educational and Judaic opportunities as they talk to college representatives.

For more information on the CHOICES: Jewish College Fair 2006, contact Karen Rader at 314-442-3756 or [email protected]stl.org.