VAIL, Colorado - Vail Mountain School welcomed 27 colleges and universities and over 100 local high school students and their parents to its East Vail campus on Sunday for the school's 15th annual College Open House.For some students, this was the first step in the college application process. Others came, in large part, to hone their lists and meet face-to-face with the representatives from colleges they've been pursuing. The school's Common was abuzz with the energy of students exploring their futures and college admission officers sharing firsthand information on their respective schools.Gary Ross, the vice president and dean of admission at Colgate University, has presented at Vail Mountain School's College Open House since 1993."This open house is a wonderful opportunity for college admission officers to provide students face-to-face time with admission officers to find the appropriate college match," Ross said.The representatives were able to provide a personalized glimpse into student life at their schools. Riley Ebel, a senior at Vail Mountain School, has refined the list of colleges and universities to which she is applying. She came to the open house to meet in person some of the admission officers she has corresponded with via e-mail. Montana Nash, a junior at Battle Mountain High School, took advantage of Vail Mountain School's invitation to all of the local high schools to get a broad glimpse of the colleges and universities she hadn't yet heard of or considered."This event has opened my eyes to what might be out there," she said."This is another step in the process," says Butch Elich, a parent from Summit County. "There are so many little 'nudges,' which students need along their path to find the right school. This event is a great thing that VMS provides to keep students moving along that path."Likewise, the open house is a helpful tool for the colleges and universities who attend. Aaron Brown, the senior assistant director office of admission at the University of Southern California, was compelled to bring his knowledge of the university's program "to the mountains" for the first time after a positive experience enrolling a VMS graduate, who is now a freshman USC."This open house provides exposure to a different geographic population who is academically qualified and might be interested in our program," Brown said.The open house is also a point of reference for those colleges who track interest. Boston University, for example, coded inquiries from Sunday evening's event, and will keep these inquiries on file."This is helpful for a school like BU because those students who repeatedly express their interest are more likely to enroll if they are accepted," said Allison Haas, assistant director of admission at BU.As the leaves begin to fall, the season of college admissions is upon seniors and their families nationwide. Students are submitting their applications on a rolling basis or by deadline. Juniors are buckling down academically and planning college visits, and juniors and sophomores will take the PSAT next week. As these young men and women prepare for their respective next steps, opportunities like the College Open House help them find the best match for the college experience they are seeking.Emily Tamberino is director of communications for Vail Mountain School.