This past Tuesday, representatives from UCSB Early Academic Outreach Program made their annual visits to a number of local high schools as part of Higher Education Week, which provides high school juniors and seniors with information and advice regarding university admissions and student life.

Officials from the UC, CSU, community colleges and various private schools visited schools in the Oxnard area on Monday and continued hosting college fairs in Lompoc, Santa Maria, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria later into the week. Students were given the opportunity to attend presentations and speak directly with educational advisers in order to understand the necessary requirements and other standards for attending universities and junior colleges.

At the Santa Barbara High School college fair, EAOP Director Britt Ortiz said the program strives to expand students’ perspectives regarding higher education and encourage more students to pursue collegiate degrees.

“What we’re hoping is that the entirety … of the school [we visit] will have that opportunity to also plug into learning about the different colleges and universities and the requirements and what have you,” Ortiz said. “One of our big pushes is creating a college-going culture. How do we help schools transform themselves so that all students are going to college, not just a few?”

In addition to the program, UCSB also has one of the few academic outreach programs with a college site coordinator who is readily available to high school students, according to Ortiz.

“We have five schools like that right now where our staff person is located there [and] they have an office [and] they’re supported by the high school,” Ortiz said. “[This] allows our staff to be there on a permanent basis.”

Santa Barbara High School senior Stephanie Alva said she felt motivated to pursue higher education as a result of the event, which encouraged her to set higher post-graduation goals.

“I want to start now,” Alva said. “I have more chances in different schools — not just SBCC — and I can go straight to [UCSB].”

According to Theresa Hannon, a representative for The Art Institutes, the event also seeks to promote alternatives to the standard four-year college plan.

“This is a place to find interested students and [we] really just help plant that seed or inspire them to follow their heart,” Hannon said. “[We can] help them find something they love to do and make it their career.”

According to San Diego Christian College representative Dan Lamm, college fairs also provide an efficient setting for students to develop long-term connections in the education sector.

“One thing that is nice about these fairs is that we meet with the juniors [in spring] and then we come back again in the fall to meet with them as seniors,” Lamm said. “For example, yesterday I was at a fair and a girl that I met previously came up to the table again, remembered us and signed up.”