Polk County high school students had a unique opportunity Wednesday to learn more about area colleges and universities without leaving campus.

Fifteen schools were represented at the first Polk County College Fair at Polk County High School. Organized by college adviser Matthew Renn, the fair included representatives from Appalachian State University, Blue Ridge Community College, Brevard College, Converse College, Davidson College, Furman University, Gardner-Webb University, Isothermal Community College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Lees-McRae College, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, USC Upstate, Warren Wilson College and Wofford College.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, college graduates with an associate’s degree made $5,760 more per year on average than those with just a high school diploma in 2015. Those with a bachelor’s degree made $22,032 more per year on average than those with just a high school diploma, making it critical that students pursue some type of post-secondary education in order to be financially secure and competitive in today’s job market.

“Today’s college fair provided an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about a wide variety of college options,” said PCHS English teacher Angie McCammon. “I also gained valuable new information about a few colleges that I can pass along to students. Mr. Renn is an asset to our school, and this college fair is just one of the many ways he is making college a reality for more of our students.”

The college representatives in attendance provided information on the application process, financial aid opportunities, student life, campus living and dining and much more. In total, about 280 juniors and seniors attended the fair from both Polk County High School and Polk County Early College Some seniors were even able to apply to some colleges on the spot.

“I though the college fair was a good way to touch base with schools I’ve thought of applying to as well as some new options to consider,” said senior Chloe Adair.