Connecting Students with Opportunity at the 2018 College Fair for Musicians

 College Fair attendees listening to announcements from the stage. Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

College Fair attendees listening to announcements from the stage. Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

Not unlike any big event, months of preparation, organization (spear-headed by no one other than Sam Apgar), and sweat went into putting on our annual College Fair for Musicians, and it was a smashing success, thanks to a team effort from our staff, interns, and volunteers. We could not have been happier with the results—a turn out of over 300 attendees, representatives from 45 colleges, universities, and conservatories from around the country, and press coverage from all local major news stations. You can read more about our Fair in this Inquirer article.

The day before the Fair, Sam, Joseph, Susanna, Andy (our intern), and Youth Advisory Council members stuffed over 400 bags with Project 440 swag, brochures, and programs for our attendees. What could have been a mundane event was actually a nice bonding activity. Agnes, one of our YAC volunteers, was gracious enough to spend her birthday helping Project 440 so there were cupcakes and pizza. Upon the students discovering that Joe had never seen Shrek, Marquise promptly pulled up the movie on the screen, providing background entertainment for the afternoon.

 Swag stuffing party! Photo Credit: Samantha Apgar

Swag stuffing party! Photo Credit: Samantha Apgar

 Clark Connor leads a workshop on recording yourself for auditions. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Clark Connor leads a workshop on recording yourself for auditions. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

The day of the College Fair started bright and early for Team Project 440 with a 7am arrival at the Kimmel Center.  It was all worth it as our college registration, attendee registration, and set up for the 6 workshops on college admissions topics went smoothly.  The morning sessions included An Overview of College Prep, College Audition Prep, and Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Music. The afternoon sessions were on Scholarships and Financial Aid, College Essay Writing, and Tips on Recording Yourself for Auditions. Students seemed to find the Audition workshops to be the most helpful in addressing anxieties about this part of the application process.

 Councilman David Oh presenting Joseph Conyers with Citation from the City Council. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Councilman David Oh presenting Joseph Conyers with Citation from the City Council. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

City Councilman David Oh made an appearance close to lunchtime to present Joseph with a citation recognizing the important work Project 440 is doing for the Philadelphia community. “Whereas, the College Fair for Musicians is an extraordinary opportunity that helps young musicians to connect to advanced education resources and be more effective in the realm of music and society by providing them with much needed leadership and talents that will strengthen our Music Community, our City, and our Country.” While what drives Joseph and Team Project 440 to work tirelessly towards putting on an event like the College Fair for Musicians comes from our deep desire to “do good,” it is nice to have some public recognition. We were truly happy that Joseph received this honor during the Fair.

 Juilliard representative speaking to College Fair attendee. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Juilliard representative speaking to College Fair attendee. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski


The feedback we’ve been receiving from the attendee’s post-College Fair surveys has been overwhelmingly positive. Many attendees felt that they were “exposed to many more options for colleges,” “more open to different types of programs in college,” and “were considering different career paths in music.” Attendees were impressed with the diversity and the number of colleges that were present at the Fair and found that the college representatives were “welcoming in their ability to answer any question no matter how vague or specific,” “ informative and approachable,” and “knew what kind of student the school generally attracts.”

 Cigus “The College Fairy” Vanni presenting a workshop on An Overview of College Prep. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Cigus “The College Fairy” Vanni presenting a workshop on An Overview of College Prep. Photo Credit: Ed Hille

Cigus, the College Fairy, who teaches Instruments for Success and led the Overview of College Prep workshops says: "How great is it when forty-five of the colleges and conservatories with the most high-quality music programs in the country come to YOUR venue for YOU?  That's what a college fair is--and it provides each student with the opportunity to interact personally with school representatives that can answer questions, address concerns and provide insight and nuance.  Finding the right "fit" between student and program is critical--and what a great opportunity the college fair provides!"

 Winner of the Sixers tickets in the raffle at the end of the day. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

Winner of the Sixers tickets in the raffle at the end of the day. Photo Credit: Rick Urbanowski

The day concluded with a raffle drawing for attendees who attended 3 or more workshops offered throughout the day. Through in-kind sponsorships, we were able to give away a Wawa gift basket, gift cards to Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, Amazon, and South, concert tickets to Philly POPs, Kimmel Center, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and perhaps most excitingly, Sixers tickets donated to us by Board member, Jonathan Fink. The look on the winner’s face just says it all— hopefully he left the Fair with a lot of great information on college admissions, but he may have been most happy to leave with those Sixers tickets in hand :)

*Many many thanks are in order to all of our in-kind sponsors; all of our raffle items were donations from Board members Mary Javian, Blake Espy, Jon Fink, plus all of the organizations named above; the print job of our beautiful programs were donated to us by Media Copy; our day was captured by the talents of Ed Hille, Rick Urbanowski, and our very own Chloe Cooper; lunchtime entertainment was provided by the Dan McCain Quartet; Fox & Hound offered us coupons for attendee swag bags; Frederick Oster Fine Violins and Stephanie M. Schwartzberg Esq. were fiscal sponsors. And of course thank you to our volunteer team-- YAC members, Thomas Meany, and Teresa Montano.

 Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper

Photo Credit: Chloe Cooper