Throughout the past school year, students at Webster City Middle School explored their post-secondary education options with visits to area colleges and universities.
“It is never too early to get our students thinking about what is next for them,” explains Principal Becky Hacker-Kluver. “In order to help our middle school students be aware of the expectations of college, careers and citizenship, we partnered with post-secondary institutions to provide tours and information about what it takes to be successful in college and careers,” says Hacker-Kluver. “… and planning must begin now.
“When we think of success for each and every student, we want the students to begin thinking about what careers interest them, as everyone will have a career or many careers in his or her lifetime,” she says. “The students receive instruction in the Career Pathways in sixth and eighth grade during guidance class with class activities, hands-on projects, speakers, etc., plus regular integration of careers in the regular classrooms at all levels. When the students are actually able to experience a college campus, many eyes are opened to all the possibilities.”
Webster City Middle School is aligning ideas with those of Achieve Inc., which is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for post-secondary education, work and citizenship. Hacker-Kluver says according to their website, all students should graduate from high school fully prepared for college and careers.
“Through our continued research on school reform and the Common Core, this organization has been recommended to us as a great resource. With their mission being, ‘All students should graduate from high school ready for college, careers and citizenship,’ this aligns with our philosophy so well,” she says.
Fifth and sixth graders toured Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge; seventh graders toured Iowa State University in Ames; and eighth graders toured Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College.
“The students have returned from these visits excited about the possibilities and opportunities that lie before them,” Hacker-Kluver says. “Each of the colleges stressed the importance of doing your best in all of your academic classes, getting involved in extra-curricular activities, and enjoying school.”
The principal says students returned from the visits with increased interest and enthusiasm, and she heard comments such as, “I am going to start thinking about what I want to do in college,” and “I want to go to college even more now.”
“Everyone is asking, ‘Do we get to do this again next year?’ This is the best question that can be asked,” Hacker-Kluver says.