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By Kenneth Mallory

Thousands of D.C. metro area students attended a recent college fair where they had access to readiness tips and admissions information from hundreds of the nation’s college and university representatives.

It’s not the first time the fair took place. Held annually and sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, along with D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the event is a massive collage of universities and colleges attempting to brand themselves as the best academic destinations. This year middle school students were welcomed in addition to high-schoolers.

Emily Durso, Assistant Superintendent for Post-Secondary Education and Workforce Readiness at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, said that the message she was imparting to students during the fair was that college is a necessity and that preparation is important.

“First of all I want them to realize they have to go to college. Number two … there are a variety of colleges here because they want them … these colleges all came here and bought booths because they want our kids,” said Durso. “They need to start getting focused on going to college young, which is why this year for the first time we have middle school students. We want to focus them earlier and earlier and earlier so that they realize that if they want to go to these schools they’ve got to stay with the program.”

But, while Durso is stressing college as a mandatory life path, others are saying they can barely afford it.  Many at the fair cited cost as a potential barrier to attending college.

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