BELTON — Sixteen area high schools collectively gathered a dizzying array of college representatives for students pondering their futures to visit.

When fair organizer Beverly Stephens opened the Mid-Tex College Fair on Thursday evening, hundreds of high school students and parents descended the Bell County Expo Center stairs.

An expected 1,500 students made their way along the corridors of tables representing more than 80 colleges, universities, specialty schools and the military branches.

Stephens, a Belton High School counselor, has been part of the event 12 years and said it’s been around far longer.

“I think it’s great our students get to visit all these locations they might otherwise not have a chance to visit,” she said.

As a high school counselor, Stephens said she pushed juniors to narrow their list of post-secondary options.

Central Texas College, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor drew large crowds, but many also visited booths for Yale, Harvard and the University of Montana Western.

Colton Holmes, a Killeen High School senior, said he had questions about the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets.

“The best part is that we get a view of all the colleges and we can compare,” he said.

Molly Heckathorn, a junior at Harker Heights High School, agreed the number of options all together was helpful.

“It’s really helpful and a little scary,” she said, pondering the near future.

Holmes said the reality of finishing high school in a few months was starting to sink in.

“I’m realizing how important it is to meet all the deadlines and not wait to the last minute.”

Holmes said he was looking at schools that offer network technician options.

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