Middle schools in the Wichita area are sending their students to college campuses to plant the “college bug” early. Approximately 90 seventh-graders from Wilbur Middle School visited Newman on Oct. 24 for a tour.
Wilbur Middle School seventh-grade teacher Kathy Rodriguez helped coordinate the visit. Rodriguez said, “I think any opportunity to get the kids on a campus is an excellent chance for them to consider their future goals.”
The initiative came about because of Wilbur Middle Schools involvement in a program called AVID. They are a demonstration school for the AVID program, which aims to prepare students for college readiness and success. This is the seventh year that AVID students at Wilbur Middle School have visited college campuses and the second year for all seventh-grade students to visit Newman.
“We try to expose the students to a variety of college campuses while they are in sixth through eighth grade here at Wilbur," explained Rodriguez. "Students in the AVID program will visit multiple campuses each year, while the remaining students will visit one campus per year.”
During campus visits, the focus is on educating the students about the college programs and opportunities available to them, especially those in the Wichita area. Tour guides also cover topics such as big schools versus small schools, what the ACT test is, the importance of grades and effort throughout high school and encourage them to find something they are passionate about.
Amanda Booth, associate director of admissions, enjoys hosting middle school students. Booth said, “We hope the exposure and visiting our campus helps each student get excited about their future, and most of all know college is attainable. We certainly hope that college choice in six or seven years is Newman, but our ultimate goal is to help motivate and help each student realize college is an option.”
When students arrived on campus Tuesday, they sat down with admissions counselor Benjamin Donals for a quick informative session, during which they had the opportunity to ask him questions pertaining to Newman or college in general. Students were shocked when Donals explained what the schedule of a college student may look like since having constant class throughout the day is all they've ever known. Students were extremely curious about the programs Newman had available; many questions centered around music and science programs.
Students also asked about the cost of Newman. They were surprised at the price Donals gave them for tuition, books, room and board, but seemed happy to hear that scholarships and other funding options exist to help students.
The field trip is not forgotten once Wilbur Middle School leaves campus. “We continually talk about their future and what paths they want to pursue,” Rodriguez said.
Newman hosts multiple middle school visits each year. On Sept. 28-29, 50 seventh-grade science students from Marshall Middle School came to campus. They learned about research and even received a short introductory lecture regarding organic chemistry from Dean of Arts and Sciences David Shubert, Ph.D.
Preparing students in seventh grade to think about their future goals can have a profound impact on their choices after high school. The hope is to plant the seed of motivation and encouragement for students to further their education after high school.