By JOE JAROSZ
May 14, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Is sixth grade too early to get children to start thinking about college? The Kansas City Public Schools doesn’t think so.
On Friday, May 9, around 600 sixth grade students from throughout the KCPS schools visited the campuses of two area schools – University of Missouri-Kansas City and Metropolitan Community College: Penn Valley – as part of the Kids 2 College program. The Kids 2 College program was developed, with support from the Sallie Mae Fund in partnership with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, as a way to expose middle-level students to the value and accessibility of a higher education.
The program includes a curriculum written by career and college experts and divided into six lessons plus the campus visit. During Friday’s field trip, KCPS students learned about the post-secondary education system, how to pay and get into college and the various careers accessible because of a college degree. The campus visit also gave the students a chance to see first hand what college life is like.
At the first stop, MCC:Penn Valley president Joe Seabrooks briefly spoke to the students, saying he went through struggles in middle school, but made a promise to himself to take advantage of every learning opportunity possible.
“You being here represents a level of energy, investment and focus that’s important for students your age,” Seabrooks said. “Identify what you’re good at and what you like to do and go from there.”
Lilly Englebrick, director of guidance and counseling services for the KCPS, said it’s important to start early when talking to students about their college opportunities. By the time the students get into high school, school official want them to start taking classes that could help them in their desired career path.
“We want them to think about the future and plant those seeds early,” Englebrick said.
Amy Bristow, sixth grade teacher at James Elementary School, said throughout much of the program, the students have been especially interested in how someone pays for college. Maria Kennedy, sixth grade teacher at Gladstone, echoed the same remarks about her students.
“It’s a big transition and they sometimes have trouble understanding the concept that you have to provide for yourself even though from grades K-12 school was provided for you,” Kennedy said.
Both teachers think middle school is a good time to get students started thinking about college. The two teachers added they’ve shared their college experiences with students, emphasizing the importance of the difference of college lifestyles from high school and the many financial aid options.
“We’ve talked a lot about money,” Bristow said. “They’re really concerned about the money aspect.”