At Destination College 2024, high school juniors take the plunge into college planning

April 10, 2024 About Us

As she approaches her senior year of high school, Sofia Mohedano knows what she wants. She plans to study international relations, and she’s looking for a big-name school. How to reach those goals is a different story, however, so she and her father headed to Destination College last Saturday to soak up as much knowledge as they could. 

“It’s been a good first foot into college prep,” Sofia, a junior at Portsmouth High School, said as she stopped by the Granite Edvance table at the college fair to grab some literature (and a stuffed moose). 

Sofia was one of more than 600 NH high school juniors and their family members who attended the 25th annual event, held this year at Saint Anselm College. Designed to help students start their college planning journey on the right foot, the event offered access to college admissions reps, advice from young professionals who were once in their shoes, and insights from Granite Edvance’s own college planning experts.  

“There’s no straight line. We’ve all taken different paths and different steps in our journey,” said Granite Edvance President and CEO Christiana Thornton, who moderated the opening session, featuring four young NH professionals with very different career stories.  

Angie Lane, a UNH grad and executive director of Red River Theatres in Concord, shared with the crowd how she’d perhaps been a bit too driven and anxious throughout college and the early years of her career. She encouraged students to explore and have an open mind. “Don’t box yourself in,” she said.  

Lauren Chooljian, who graduated from Saint Anselm College and is now a senior reporter and producer at New Hampshire Public Radio, confessed that she had no idea what she was doing when she started on her college journey. She advised students not to get too hung up on getting into their dream school and not to panic if they don’t have their lives figured out just yet. “No decision you make is permanent,” she said.  

Rob McDermott, a NH Fish and Game conservation officer who appears in the reality TV series North Woods Law, echoed Chooljian’s sentiments and encouraged students to pursue their goals relentlessly once they figure them out.  

Fisto Ndayishimiye, a community organizer in Concord, urged young people to serve their community and their state. “We want to see New Hampshire rising, and you are the future of New Hampshire,” he said.  

“It’s been a good first foot into college prep.”

Sofia mohedano, portsmouth High School junior

Next, students and their families got to choose from a variety of practical workshops led by Granite Edvance team members and experts in the field. Attendees got an overview of the college admissions process, took a dive into financial aid, learned how to build a great college list, explored community college pathways, and got a taste of the college athletics experience. Along with providing practical advice, the workshops offered students a chance to ask questions about whatever was on their minds – from the Early Admissions process to gap years to the test-optional trend. 

Finally, the crowd reconvened for the college fair. For many students, it was a first chance to speak with college representatives and explore majors and courses of study.  

Haley Williams, a junior at White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield, was eager to connect with schools that offered veterinary medicine programs. She’s completing an Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) at a local veterinary clinic and knows she wants to continue in that field while staying close to home, but she and her parents haven’t yet explored the education options.  

“We have no clue,” said Hailey’s mom, Tonya.  

Likewise, Kaiden Calvani and his grandparents came to the event with little prior knowledge. “I knew nothing about any of this,” said Kaiden’s grandfather, Ray Blake. “I learned a ton.”  

Kaiden, who attends Raymond High School and hopes to study accounting at an in-state school, was excited to learn about ways to pay for college. “I learned a lot about different scholarships and how to get them,” he said.

Armed with information and resources, students and their families are now acquainted with Granite Edvance, as well. As they continue down their pathways, they can reach out for guidance and support.   

All photos by Corey Garland. To view full photo gallery, visit our Destination College page.

Back to Top