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High school students from throughout the Napa Valley are encouraged to attend a new college fair scheduled for next week that seeks to broaden their horizons beyond Bay Area universities.

Wine Country College Fair — a free event on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Napa High School — will feature representatives from more than 40 universities and colleges located across the United States as well as overseas.

Napa High Principal Annie Petrie said her school is “proud” to host the new Wine Country College Fair.

“Our goal is to expose students in the valley to a diverse number of colleges and universities, large and small, so that each student has an opportunity to find the perfect fit for what will be their home away from the Napa Valley,” said Petrie on Monday.

Organizers of the college fair said they wanted students to know about higher education opportunities outside the area and California.

“A common thing we find is there are so many other options for them to know about,” said Tom Lewis, owner of the tutoring service SurferMath and a longtime local math teacher.

Lewis worked with Napa High Assistant Principal Kate Gauger and Mel Preimsburger, whose Napa-based company MP College Chat specializes in helping students with college applications, to organize Wine Country College Fair.

“This is really a partnership between the three of us,” said Preimsburger.

A former university admissions specialist, Preimsburger said she has found Napa teenagers looking beyond high school often focus on “local favorites” like U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, U.C. Davis and Sonoma State and little else.

“But those aren’t always the right fit” for every kid, said Preimsburger, who spent nearly 14 years at the University of Southern California in admissions.

“Not every student studies and learns the same way,” she said. “A university isn’t for everyone. Some flourish in a small liberal arts community,” for instance.

Using her many contacts in admissions at different institutions, Preimsburger reached out and convinced dozens of higher education representatives to attend their Wine Country College Fair. “All my buddies are coming,” she said.

Of the more than 40 institutions committed to being at Napa High on Sept. 18, most are outside California, and a few are from outside the U.S.

They include American University of Paris, DePaul University, Ecole hotelier de Lausanne (Switzerland), George Mason University, Gettysburg College, Louisiana State University, Marist College, Miami University (Ohio), Oregon State University, Rutgers University, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon, University of Rochester and many more.

California institutions include Berkeley, Davis and Napa Valley College, plus Chapman University, Occidental College and Whittier College.

The organizers also welcome all local high school students, from Calistoga to American Canyon, at their event.

“We really wanted to open this up to all students in Napa County,” from both public and private schools, said Preimsburger.

Students and parents will first visit the Napa High Little Theater for an introduction and overview of the evening. A University of Rochester official will give advice on how best to maximize interactions with college representatives.

“For many students, this will be their first college fair,” said Preimsburger.

Lewis said they will hand out a list of suggested questions for students and parents to ask counselors and college admission officers who will set up in the Napa High gym.

“You don’t know what you don’t’ know until you start asking questions,” Lewis said.

Students are advised not to spend time at the college fair asking questions whose answers can be found on the Internet, according to Preimsburger. Instead, they should ask questions that are “in some cases more subjective.”

“It is always interesting to get an admission officer’s perspective, especially if they are an alum of the school,” she said.

Some suggested questions to ask at the college fair are:

—What are some of your most competitive, or popular majors?

—What type of academic support do you offer for freshmen?

—How do students spend their free time on campus?

—What is the one thing students say they enjoy most about your campus?

—How would you describe the culture/vibe of the campus?

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American Canyon Eagle editor

Noel Brinkerhoff has been editor of the American Canyon Eagle since 2014. Prior to that he covered state politics in Sacramento for the California Journal.