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May 14, 2012
About 175 fifth and sixth graders from eight school districts in northwest Missouri on Thursday, May 10, experienced life on the Northwest Missouri State University campus for a day during a special event aimed at opening their eyes toward the possibilities of a post-secondary education.
Youth from Pattonsburg, North Mercer, North Daviess, Winston, Gilman City, North Harrison, Cainsville and Newtown-Harris schools attended the event, “I’m Going to College Day,” which was sponsored by Northwest’s Building Bridges program.
“We want kids to start thinking about what their opportunities might be in post-secondary,” said Dr. Rochelle Hiatt, Building Bridges coordinator and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Counseling. “We want to create opportunities for access and success in whatever their post-secondary goals might be. What we’re most interested in is helping them start to think about their academic and career planning.”
Prior to their visit, the students received backpacks with a workbook and an interest inventory to complete. The students were then grouped for the visit based on their interests.
Thursday’s schedule included a variety of activities and group discussions to get the youth thinking about college. Northwest Student Ambassadors led groups of the students on campus tours that included time in academic departments and with Northwest faculty in their interest areas.
“It was definitely unique because normally we don’t handle students this young,” said Northwest Ambassador Kelsi Franklin, a St. Joseph native who is working toward her master’s degree in guidance and counseling. “It was fun to see their energy and how excited they were.”
Ambassadors led the students on tours similar to those they give to high school students who are interested in attending Northwest, offering information about buildings on the campus and services the University offers.
“I talked to them about the benefits of the laptop program, which was a really cool concept to them, and the textbooks, how it’s similar to their school where they get them at the beginning of the year and they turn them back in at the end of the school year,” Franklin said. “We walked through the International Flag Plaza to point out the diversity and we stopped at the IIC (Intercultural International Center) office to talk about study abroad experiences. That was the first a lot of them had heard about that, so it was fun to introduce that to them.”
Developmentally, fifth and sixth graders are at a stage where ideas about their post-secondary goals are starting to form, Hiatt said.
“Whether it’s conscious or not, kids make decisions early on that they can or can’t have a post-secondary experience,” she said. “So this is to let them know that everyone can have a post-secondary experience and that they have choices. That way they don’t assume they can’t do something and close that door too early.
Items sent home with the youth also included resources for parents to assist with the college-planning process.
“I’m Going to College Day” was a first, but Hiatt said Building Bridges hopes to organize it annually and offer it to additional schools in the region.
Building Bridges is a collaborative initiative of Northwest and 14 of its primary feeder schools to align course content and assessment processes so high school graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary for a smooth transition to college.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468