It’s difficult for second graders to imagine all that college entails. But students at Bon Air Elementary School started to get a better idea once they had toured campuses, eaten in dining halls and talked with college students.
This is the third school year Bon Air students in first through fifth grades have visited higher education sites, including the Kokomo Area Career Center, Indiana University Kokomo, Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana Wesleyan University and Purdue University.
The campus tours are part of the school’s college readiness focus as a component of its Indiana Student Achievement Institute school improvement plan.
“The whole concept started because we wanted to figure out a way to broaden [students’] perspectives on what they can do with their education,” said Jessica Hollingsworth, Bon Air’s instructional technology coach and coordinator of the college visits. “They have no concept until they see it.”
Each grade level goes to a different campus, where they tour various facilities, learn about labs and different majors, are introduced to student organizations, talk with professors and have the chance to ask college students questions. Most of the grades also eat on campus, which Hollingsworth said gives them an extra taste of college life and the chance to talk among themselves about what they just saw.
Introducing students to higher education at an early age helps raise their awareness of opportunities available to them, said Principal Paula Concus. It’s especially important for students whose parents didn’t go to college, she added.
“If they can picture themselves in that environment, they have a better chance of making those dreams come true,” Concus said. “We want you to get through school and know there’s something else after the school you’re in. If nothing else, it makes them think about the possibilities.”