Most kids in the sixth grade might not be picturing what it’s like to sit in a collegiate lecture hall, to pay for university credits or to receive the diploma or training that will start them on their career paths. But, thanks to the Kids2College program, a group of West Homer Elementary School students got a chance to ruminate on all of that last week.
The sixth graders at West Homer flowed off of school buses onto the Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer last Friday for a visit and a crash course in college learning. This visit was organized as part of Kids2College, a national program that promotes early awareness of college in young students.
Once there, the kids rotated through stations in different classrooms and buildings across the small campus, with each focusing on a different area of study. From marine biology to mathematics to communications, the students got mini lessons from college professors themselves.
Standing behind a table laden with animal skulls, Lee Post asked the youngsters to think about all the different ways in which a person can “read” a skull. Post, known locally at the Bone Man, teaches skeletal articulation at the college.
In Pioneer Hall, assistant professor Jeffrey Johnson showed the kids how numbers can mean more than just memorization and equations. He took the young students through a simulated model of wolves and rabbits, showing them how the populations’ interactions with each other can change and be predicted by equations.
Ashley Hanson, a teacher at West Homer, said the campus visit was valuable for the students.
“I truly believe that students need to be able to set foot on campus to believe that they can be there one day,” she said.
She said the Kids2College program helps the students better visualize what the many different aspects of life after high school could look like. That includes living on one’s own, paying for college courses or starting a career.
“A lot of them (students) in starting sixth grade, they’re like, ‘I want to be independent,’” Hanson said. “And what does it take to be independent? What does independence look like, and how do we get there?”
Not only did the West Homer students get to visit the campus, the campus also sent resources to them through the program. Hanson said the process has also involved community members coming to the school to talk with students about their careers, how they got them, and what they do for a living.
“The kids have really loved this program,” Hanson said. “It’s a six-part program where they visited the school and taught the kids about how they could apply for college courses, how much the average college course costs.”
The program also teaches students “what options there are for supplemental funding, and what next steps could be taken for reaching their educational goals,” Hanson said in an email.
Nancy Johnson, student services counselor at Kachemak Bay Campus, said the campus visit helps young students get comfortable with the space many of them will occupy in the future, whether for a collegiate degree or career training classes.
She said it’s important the students know the school is there for them, to serve them.