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Big Dreams, Bold Moves, Brave Decisions

More than 1,300 students and parents strolled through College Night at the Odessa College Sports Center on October 2 looking for the chance to visit with representatives from some 60 colleges, universities, military, and technical schools.

From Abilene Christian University to WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming, the schools offered information about admissions, areas of study, cost, and financial aid. Options abound for life after high school graduation but understanding what is available and exploring those options can be daunting. The goal of College Night is to help students and their families with their research by bringing the colleges and universities to them.

 “It’s definitely a huge opportunity because some of these schools don’t come out [here] but once a year,” said Jennifer Perkins, College Counselor at Permian High School, “So it’s a huge, huge thing to meet the reps.”

PHS senior Angelica Mancha said she had already started researching colleges, and welcomed the chance to talk to the reps about tuition, housing and other basic information. “I want to know which one as the best option for civil engineering because I plan on majoring in that field,” she said. Her preference is to stay in Texas and she added she was surprised to learn about the engineering partnership between Texas A&M University and Midland College. “I didn’t know they had that,” she said. 

U. of Wyoming rep Jen Paintin talking to a family during College Night.


The colleges are also trying to make connections. The University of Wyoming sent a representative to Odessa for the first time. Jen Paintin, College Relations Representative for UW, said they see quite a bit of success in recruiting from Texas. “Students coming from communities approximately the size of Odessa do really well at the University of Wyoming,” she said. “They are used to a little bit of that smaller town feel.”

Paintin (pictured to the left) said she looks forward to her conversations with students and parents, and describing the options that are available to them. “Usually in talking to them, I can prove to them that we have the support that they need to go that far from home.”

ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri agrees that College Night can be a great chance for kids to see what opportunities exist. “We want all of our students to continue their educational journey beyond high school graduation,” he said. “It may be military service, an industry certificate, a two-year degree or a four-year degree; this is one way for them to explore those possibilities.”

This also lines up with the state’s focus on creating a skilled and educated workforce. In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board established a goal of at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 having a certificate or degree by the year 2030.


ECISD’s high school counselors organize College Night each year, and it includes separate financial aid forums in English and Spanish. This year, the Permian Basin Workforce Commission also attended with information about jobs and careers in local industries.


If you were not able to attend ECISD’s College Night ask your school’s counselors for information from the colleges and universities represented there. You will find more pictures from College Night 2019 on our Ector County ISD Facebook page.

Overhead photo looking down on the crowd at College Night.