“I wish I had tried harder my freshman and sophomore year.” This is a common sentiment expressed by many high school seniors who, in retrospect, now understand the importance of planning for life after graduation, even as underclassmen. Luckily, the sophomores at Roberto Clemente High School have already begun to do so.
With one quarter of sophomore year under their belts, it was time to reflect on their progress and to refocus on their long-term goals. For all high schoolers, the end goal is obvious: walking across the stage with their diploma. That’s their big day. But, what about the day after?
With two years of high school remaining, how can we help our sophomores understand the urgency and necessity of planning for the day after graduation? College tours! Groups of students visited six different college campuses: North Park University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, St. Xavier University, Elmhurst College, and Dominican University. At each campus, students listened to presentations about the diverse academic, athletic, and social programs offered and went on a walking tour.
During the tour at Dominican University, many students were surprised at the diversity of the student body, especially regarding the wide range of age groups they saw. As they traveled across the campus, they oohed at the state of the art computers, aahed at the huge gym, and ughed at the idea of community bathrooms. They marched across the quad, covered in deep red and rust-colored leaves, excitedly chattering about how they could picture themselves sitting there with their friends in between classes. Clearly, being on this campus made college very real to them.
The day concluded with a Q & A session with a panel of Dominican University students. One Clemente student asked the very insightful question, “How would you describe your learning and living experience here?” This opened the door for an entertaining and honest discussion about dorm roommates, financial aid, sports, and a ton of other topics the students had questions about. By the end of the day, many Clemente sophomores had clearer ideas of what they did and did not want in a college.