This past week our entire sophomore class embarked on an adventurous college trip that was not your average college tour. Students visited the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Benedictine University, and University of Chicago, where they participated in a campus-wide scavenger hunt for classes, campus landmarks, and all manner of university offices and academic buildings. While the eloquently articulated admissions presentations, student-guided tours, and critical details of financing college are all fascinating and important, the purpose of this trip was to give students a taste of campus life on their own.
Students were given a mock class schedule comprised of actual classes from each university’s course catalogue and charged with the task of finding the location of each class, just a college student would do on the first day of school. Sounds simple, right? But, in addition to finding their classes, students had a gamut of tasks that they needed to complete in order to win the campus crawl. Each task was rooted in a real-life situation that the average college student would experience. For instance, having to meet with a financial counselor in the bursar’s office or renew a parking permit at student services required our students to find campus resources of which they had little or no prior knowledge. Armed with a campus map and nothing more, students raced across each of the three campuses to discover just how much more there is to being a college student than going to class.
With the element of competition as a motivating factor, many students really got into the race! At Benedictine, the sophomore counselor recounted her experience with her group, saying “[My group] is acting like we’re on The Amazing Race…it’s precious! They melted my heart today!” Some teachers even got in on the fun; at the UIC campus, it became Science vs. Social Science as teachers found themselves divided by content area with their groups of students. Returning to school exhausted, students reflected on their experience in class through writing and engaging dialogue with teachers. Having the experience of managing multiple priorities in a day has broadened the context of college culture and has given many students lots to think about for their futures. Overall, it was a great experience, and the weather sure helped to make it a great day!