Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Never Too Early to Bring Up College

While my yearly curriculum does have its fair share of projects and independent study opportunities, I would say they are fairly spread out….at least one per nine weeks. Project topics might include Native American tribes, an in-depth biography of an explorer, or detailed information regarding a battle not usually covered in the history books during the American Revolution or even World War II. Every now and then I like to throw in a couple of quick projects just to keep research skills sharp.

I firmly believe it’s never too early to begin exposing younger students to the future and the possibility of college. I want them to understand that preparation begins in elementary school in order to obtain the proper foundation for later studies in middle school and in high school. I generally begin by showing them actual textbooks from middle and high school. If you haven’t lifted a high school history text in the last few years, I encourage you to do so, but be careful you don’t pull a muscle. Those suckers are thick and heavy. My nine- and ten-year-old students are often amazed at the “stuff” found in the texts, and by passing them around the room the door is opened for me to share what the future holds and why attending to their studies now will make adding more material in the future that much easier.

We also discuss college early in the year as well. Sites like
this one give plenty of reasons to attend college, but I’ve found most elementary age kids want to go to schools they are familiar with because it’s located in or near our hometown, they hear the name on television a lot, or it’s the alma mater of a parent or grandparent. Most of the kids name schools that are in the news mainly for football, but over a couple of days I like to show students that college today means so much more than a big name or being a football school. There are non-traditional colleges such as online schools, schools for particular trades such as being a chef, and smaller private colleges including religious institutions.

If you are a regular reader around here you are well aware that I’m dead up into the history of….well….the history of EVERYTHING. I like to show students that even schools of higher learning have a history and some pretty amazing facts can be gleaned by reading the history of a school. So, I pass around a hat and everyone draws out a slip of paper with the name of a college written on it.

Since it’s the beginning of the year, researching the history of a college is fairly simple since it is usually given at the college Web site. This affords me the opportunity to discuss my Internet rules, discover who is computer savvy and who is not, and we begin to hone our Internet research skills we will be using all year long.

Yes, I’ve predetermined the names of schools students will research. I’ve done this on purpose. I’m familiar with the history of each school, and I’ve chosen the schools because their history is fairly interesting and not just the same old story…..somebody who is now dead thought a community needed a college and blah, blah, blah… does not make my cut of interesting history.

Some colleges that make the cut for my project are:

Salem College….the oldest women’s college by founding date (1772)

Bellevue College…in the 1970s a male student filled in as the switchboard operator. Callers were surprised to hear a male voice. The guy experienced many folks hanging up on him thinking they had dialed the wrong number.

Reinhardt College…one of my own alma maters had military training in the 1890s for all students except those preparing for the ministry. They would hold war games on the same field where I remember being initiated into my sorority. Wow, if that field could talk…..

Harvard…is over 350 years old and the current yearly tuition tops out at $32,557.

University of West Georgia…is probably the college my students are most familiar with. They are always interested to discover the school was founded as an agricultural and mechanical school and is located on the grounds of a former plantation.

We usually round out the reporting process by drawing the school mascots and pennants using the school’s colors for a bulletin board display along with the student’s reports.

The picture with this post is the famous Georgia Arch from the University of Georgia campus.

The Georgia Info site explains the arch serves today as a symbol of the college. It was installed in the 1850s, when the front of the campus was enclosed with an iron fence. The Arch was patterned after the arch on Georgia’s state seal. Originally, the three columns held two iron gates – but these soon disappeared.


the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I don't know if it's relevant enough for you, but St. Joseph's College, in Rensselaer, IN, might make the cut.

It started out as an Indian school. Jim Thorpe went there. The priests meticulously drained the land themselves and from there the school was born.

Of course, I'm biased.

Also, my mom threw a fit that my cousin's biology book in high school was 9 pounds. He weighed it. Dork.

Yeah, I'm Still Here... said...

I agree that college needs to be thought of early! Wish my youngest would've thought of it more seriously, all he heard was blah blah blah. I'm sure it would make all the difference as we're trying to get him accepted now!

Although I don't know any history about it, my older son is at U of Idaho majoring in History. :)

Also, sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Congratulations on your One Year! I hope I make it at least that long!

Veggie Mom said...

Hmmmmmm...when did you start teaching history? I'm tad confused here, although I do think UGA is one of the prettiest campuses around!

PerplxinTexan♥ said...

I personally just don't feel like overwhelming a child from a young age is healthy. I believe what you said to mostly be true but at the same time growing up I was dubbed as 'gifted' and loathed such a title. Instead of expanding my academics I wanted to 'dumb down' my everything to try and be normal.

Granted, this was just me but when you consider who some of our greatest were/are they weren't given any particularly unique opportunities. In fact, many of them were thought to have both social and learning disbalities.

I feel like those who want knowledge, find it.

Tara R. said...

I'm glad that my college kid picked a school far enough away that she had to live on campus, but was still in state so she could come home when she wanted.

When it comes to choosing colleges, I think too many kids just stick close by and don't venture out into the world. That's part of the college experience, learning about yourself and what you are capable of managing on your own.

Columbia Lily said...

What a great idea!! But I thought you taught high school! Do you have a guest poster today?

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

I have to be honest... I don't really push college too much with my girls.. at least night right out of high school. College is just too expensive (in my mind) to just have a kid who has no direction dinking around. I'd rather they went out and worked a bit and maybe got some real world expeience under their belts and have a better idea of what they might want to do.

Marrdy said...

Very interesting. I wish I had have a teacher like you who would have gotten me interested in going to college young and made me do a little research so my choices weren't only the U of U and BYU!

livelylibrary said...

attending college has not ben presented as an option in my house. The context has always been "when you go to college." I have 5 children. The oldest followed that path without a glitch. The 2nd went 1 yer and quit, the 3rd is finishing her 2nd year and the twins are going to a summer high school program at a major university. Wanting to attend college has to be coupled with wanting to succeed in college. The foundation has to be in the desire to succeed along with the learning tools to do so. It s never too early to plant the seed for both.


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