Collegepalooza informs, engages students


Owen Laser

Robert Franek walks onto stage to begin his presentation on behalf of the Princeton Review.

On Saturday, March 16, District 128 held the very first Collegepalooza at VHHS, organized as a joint project by D128 College and Career Counselors Ms. Bellito from VHHS and Amy Belstra from Libertyville High School.

Collegepalooza started with an introductory session, which detailed the schedule. Two consecutive sessions followed in which students could learn about different topics pertaining to the college process in order to help them feel more comfortable about college.

“[Collegepalooza] was by no means a dry event. The sessions I went to were engaging, informational and exciting,” Drshika Asher (11) said.

Bellito described Collegepalooza as an event aimed toward juniors and their families to hear from different experts on a variety of college topics throughout the event. Six topics were presented,  included helping first-generation students learn how to go about the college process, and one on how to apply to selective institutions.

“We were trying to make this like one big event so that people, no matter where they are at in the college process, or what they’re thinking about for life after high school, that they could come to this event and find something that would answer some of their questions,” Bellito said.

Most of the students reciprocated Asher’s feelings as those like Benny Liber (11) agreed that Collegepalooza was an informational experience.

“I learned a lot about different types of schools, how they look at applications, how to write good letters, what colleges look for in students, how to figure out what type of school is best for me, etc,” Benny Liber (11) said.

Unlike what some students may have thought, it is not a college fair, but rather, it’s more like a mini-convention.

“For families that are interested in talking about specific colleges and what those colleges offer, a college fair is a great way to get that information,” Bellito said. “[But] Collegepalooza is more about the process of building your college list, or writing a college essay.”

The aforementioned experts were representatives from different colleges, and a featured keynote speaker, Rob Franek.

Franek first was a teacher, and now he’s the Editor-in-Chief of the Princeton Review and has been for 19 years. Franek traveled from New York to speak at Collegepalooza.

Being the Editor-in-Chief holds a lot of responsibilities, such as being in charge of the Princeton Review’s books, websites and classroom courses.

“I do a lot of talks on the weekends but usually they’re at college campuses for open house dates. Very few high schools get these kind of events, but honestly, you get more people at events like this, and hopefully I rounded it out with the Princeton Review side of things,” Franek said.