Representatives from colleges, technical schools, military institutions and other organizations will be engaging Coachella Valley high school students and their families in Rancho Mirage Thursday at the fourth annual “Next? Think Big! College & Career Fair.”

Upwards of 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, which gets underway at 4 p.m. in the Agua Caliente Resort Casino.

According to organizers, students from all three of the Coachella Valley’s school districts are signed up to meet with officials from more than 100 colleges, universities, technical institutions, military academies, scholarship and financial aid programs.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, OneFuture Coachella Valley, College of the Desert, Cal State San Bernardino and the school districts collaborate to convene the fair, which will feature a keynote address by Maria Furtado, executive director of the nonprofit Colleges That Change Lives.

There will be information booths and opportunities for one-on-one sessions between attendees and college recruiters, as well as other facilitators, organizers said.

Last year’s event drew representatives from every branch of the U.S. military and nearly three dozen out-of-state colleges. Even the University of Edinburgh — in Scotland — had recruiters on hand.

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