Middle school students experience a day of college life

Middle school students experience a day of college life

Middle school students experience a day of college life
October 14
18:04 2014

Anjulie Van Sickle / Contributing Writer

As a horde of seventh graders from Denton middle schools run down the entrance to the field at the UNT’s Apogee Stadium, the nine tour guides inhale deeply, preparing themselves for the five hours ahead.

Students run everywhere, laughing and playing, while trying to find their assigned groups. The tour guides wave bright neon-green signs, shaped in the letters A, B or C, calling for their assigned schools.

The tour guides will lead these seventh graders through a normal day in the life of a college student. They will experience everything from eating at Kerr Cafeteria to sitting in on a Texas history lecture.

“I’m really excited for these seventh graders to see college for the first time, because for some of them, they don’t think college is something they can accomplish,” said Emily Boykin, College of Arts and Sciences events coordinator. “Even seeing one student who wants to go to college because of the tour makes it all worth it.”

Apogee Stadium was only where the Day @ UNT began. The rest of the tour included visiting the Business Leadership Building, eating at Kerr Cafeteria, touring Willis Library and sitting in on a history class.

The program began three years ago, with only 30 students from one Denton middle school reaching out to UNT. They wanted to take a small tour of the campus and observe one of professor Andrew Torget’s Texas history lectures. This year, the tour has grown to allow more than 1,000 students.

“We started this on a shoestring, without any real ambition,” Day @ UNT program director Torget said.

Torget said he strongly believes in helping young students understand that college is an attainable feat instead of some far-off, impossible goal.

Schools participating in the program include: Uplift, Westlake Academy, Explorations Preparatory School, Selwyn College Preparatory School, Calhoun, Harpool and Bettye Myers middle schools.

“Our hope really is that this year will go well, and we can open it up to all the Denton ISD school districts,” Torget said. “This semester we’re bringing about 1,200 kids in, but if we opened it up to the entire DISD it would be almost 2,500.”

Last year, UNT provided what little funding the program had. However, since Torget was expanding the program, he reached out to different Texas foundations that were willing to help.

“We’ve never walked into a meeting and had to convince anybody,” Torget said. “We explain what we’re doing and instantly they say yes.”

His hope is to raise even more funding in the following years to accommodate the number of participating schools. Torget is also considering opening the tour up to different departments so students would be able to visit any class they’re interested in.

Elicia Cobb, economics senior and the College of Arts and Sciences events student assistant, said the months of planning have finally paid off.

“I think this experience will stick with them,” Cobb said. “When someone brings up college to them, they’ll be able to say they’ve visited an actual university.”

Overall, Torget said nothing is more invigorating than seeing 12-year-olds getting excited about college.

“My real hope with the program is that some of these kids would think about college, whether it be UNT or anywhere else, as a real and attainable thing for them,” he said. “I think that’s a very powerful opportunity.”

Visiting middle school students walk through the Library Mall during their day experiencing life as a UNT student. Photo by Anjulie Van Sickle – Contributing Writer

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