Unfortunate truth 1: some K-12 students are statistically unlikely to go to college because they're members of an "at risk" demographic: immigrants, English language learners, first in the family to graduate from high-school, etc.
Unfortunate truth 2: although many programs exist to help these students visit college campuses, these visits are quite often "canned" and generic. The very students who are at risk often receive impersonal campus tours, and they leave the visits feeling like outsiders.
My colleagues and I want to change this. We're professors of education at Northwest University in Kirkland. We have developed a partnership with a local school district that will allow roughly 50 at risk middle school students to Be college students for day. Research tells us that giving at risk students an opportunity to build relationships with "real" college students and to participate in the daily nuts and bolts of college life leads to an increase in students' beliefs that they, too, can succeed in college.
This project has three stages:
- Day 3: A colleague and I will go to the partner school (Odle Middle School). We will meet the students (who are all demographically "at risk"), teach them about the different types of colleges they could attend, and give them an overview of their upcoming campus visit. We will also work with the students to develop their goals for the visit.
Day 2: The students will come to our campus for the entire school day. They will hang out with undergraduates, have conversations with a panel of professors, participate in a college class, eat in the cafeteria, and go on a college-specific scavenger hunt. They'll be divided in small groups, and each group will be led by an undergraduate education major.
Day 3: We return to the middle school to debrief and evaluate the visit. We work together to identify "next steps" they can take to keep themselves "college bound."
Funded by Seattle, WA (May 2018)