I gave my annual "You Can Still Go to College" workshop yesterday at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASA pairs volunteer advocates with foster youth who've been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. I shared five college-related activities advocates can do with their CASA kids free or almost free, and I thought they might be helpful for anyone who works with kids who are under-resourced, disadvantaged, or just in need of some extra care and attention to get college-bound.
1. Visit a college or community college and take the tour.
Most high school kids have never been to a college campus. And it's so easy to do. Just visit the website for a local college or community college and find the information about when tours are offered. Then take one. If tours aren't offered at a convenient time, just do a self-tour. Walk around. Smell the air. Have lunch on campus. Just treat it casually and browse around–no need to make a day out of it (unless the student really wants to).
2. See a college sporting event.
Sure, football and basketball are popular college sports. And they can be quite a spectacle to watch live, especially at Division I schools. But if your student is interested in any sport–from tennis to water polo to volleyball–go see a game at a local college. And best of all, a lot of those less famous sports are free to watch.
3. Attend a national college fair.
If you ever need a student to get a sense of just how many great colleges there are, go to a natoinal college fair. They bring together hundreds of four-year colleges, community colleges, trade and technical schools for one afternoon. And admission is always free. If one of the fairs isn't happening in your area, find out if your student's high school or district might be putting on one for their students.
4. Take a class together at a college or community college.
I know, I know. You're thinking that most students won't want to take a math class for fun, and you're right. But look into continuing education or extension programs offered by colleges and community colleges. These are open to the public and offer classes on everything from video game design, to yoga, to how to be a private investigator. It doesn't matter what the class is as long as it's something that fits the student's interest. The point is to get inside a college classroom and actually have it be an enjoyable experience for your student.
5. Attend a "prospective student day" at a local college.
Some colleges throw day-long extravaganzas to show off their school for high school students and parents. They'll offer tours, presentations, food, bands, panels of students, sample classes, etc. And they're almost always free. Check your local schools and see if they have any coming up. They often take place in the spring as that's when seniors have received acceptances, and colleges particularly want to show off to those kids who've yet to decide where they'll spend the next four years.