We’re back in Gettysburg after a wonderful week learning so much about Urban Education. Yesterday, we went to a charter boarding school that starts kids in 6th grade and goes through high school. This school emphasizes college from the beginning (98% of their graduates thus far have gone onto higher ed). Compared to the school model we looked at yesterday, I thought this one was a bit moreeffective. The facilities of the property were really nice- new dorms, half an old high school being renovated, and this fancy security background check machine that scans drivers licenses and takes a photo of you- so it was clear that the school had done a lot of fundraising. When Yoo Yuong and I had lunch with two 10th graders from the school, they seemed really passionate about what the school was doing for them. They had already gone on several college tours and had a clear vision of the type of college that they would like to attend. They did mention that it’s hard living in the dorms sometimes because there is so much structure in their days and nights. And they also said that given that the school can only afford to board students sunday-friday, transitioning between home life and school every week can be hard.
After our visit to the school, we had our last day of College and Career Institute at Midtown. We interviewed the students one by one (to give them an idea of what a college interview is like) and discussed and reflected on those interviews. Then, we went over paying for college (scholarships, financial aid, loans, etc), and the admissions process. The kids then spent about 20 minutes writing a mock college essay about an obstacle in their life, someone who inspires them, or something they are passionate about. They wereso focused and had really strong essays, which some of them shared with the group. At the end of the session, we had them put their portfolios together (which they presented today) and we gave them a group picture in a picture frame which they had fun decorating.
Today, when the students in our group presented their portfolios in the cafeteria to parents, peers, and teachers, it was clear that they had gotten a lot out of their week. The students were very professional and shook hand and introduced themselves to anyone who came up and asked about their portfolios. Their professional portfolios consisted of the activities we did throughout the week: their life/goal collage, journal (with entries), resume, and mock essay. Our students were amazing at articulating little things about the week (which I didn’t think they would remember). When people asked our students about the week, they had such positive feedback, so it made us felt like we had made a difference. I am so excited for them to come to Gettysburg and see our lives as college students in a few weeks! I think everyone involved gained a lot from the experience this week!