By LINDA LOBECK
KINGSFORD - Juniors in the Class of 2014 at Kingsford High School will have a special opportunity made available to them this year - to attend a college tour in lower Michigan in the spring.
Kingsford High School staff and the KHS Academic Booster Club president review the application materials that students will complete for the KHS junior class college tour planned in the spring. A total of 50 students will be accepted along with five chaperones. Shown here from left are Terese Fornetti, president of the ABC; Nancy Jayne, guidance counselor; Michelle Kleikamp, guidance office assistant and ABC treasurer; and Kendalyn Sutton, a KHS teacher. The trip, which will include stops at five colleges/universities in lower Michigan, will be April 9-11.
The tour is being sponsored by the KHS Academic Booster Club and will bring the students to five Michigan colleges/universities during a three day period. A total of 50 students will be selected to attend the tour with five chaperones.
Students interested in taking the college tour will return their completed application to the KHS counseling office by Jan. 25, 2013.
Preparations for the tour are being made through the KHS counseling office with three major organizers - counselor Nancy Jayne, assistant Michelle Kleikamp, and KHS Principal Lyle Smithson.
Information gathered for the trip was completed with the help of Harold Payne at Forest Park Schools and Melissa Teasley, an intern in the KHS counseling office.
"Forest Park has done this for a number of years, so we aren't the first. We talked with them and developed our own plan for KHS. The concept was then fine-tuned by Nancy as we decided how to incorporate a college tour here," said Smithson.
"It's a good thing to provide for our students - a trip that includes five colleges/universities of varying size in lower Michigan," he added.
"We thought that many students haven't even thought about how they are going to visit schools," she said. "This trip will give them exposure to large, small, private and community college settings so they can see what is the best fit for them after high school. Educationally, this process also shows them how to apply for schools and get information on those they are interested in."
The trip, which will be April 9-11, will take the students to Ferris State University, Lansing Community College, Albion College, Grand Valley State University, and Central Michigan University.
"Even if these aren't the schools they end up attending, they can use the information they gather to make final choices with their parents. We went to the Academic Booster Club and they agreed to sponsor the trip because it was a good thing to offer the students," Jayne said.
Once a student applies and is accepted for the college tour, the cost will be $100 for them to attend. That cost is to help offset the meals during the three days. The group will also be spending two nights in hotels.
"We've also looked into vendors to get food to feed the students during the trip and keep costs down," she said.
Information about the trip as well as the application packet will be made available to students during the annual meeting for both juniors and seniors and their parents on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Jayne will then follow through with the juniors during the Flivver Foundation class that they take this year. It will be assignment in the class that all students, even those who aren't applying, to complete.
She added that they decided to set up a tour of schools in lower Michigan, because it's often difficult for parents financially and with time restrictions to travel downstate. Visits easier on parents would be to take a road trip to schools in the U.P. and Wisconsin.
"This trip gives the students exposure to schools where they may not have gone to before. It's a unique way for the students to look into different schools to see where they want to go," Jayne said.
The application packet assignment is good for all juniors to complete since it shows them how to gather information on schools and use that information to make comparisons. They are responsible for getting information on the programs offered at each school, student life including dormitories, financial aid, scholarships and costs including tuition and fees.
"The juniors at KHS spend all year in the Flivver Foundation class so they can start to explore their career pathway. This year's class includes 127 students," Smithson said.
He added that Kleikamp has some unique insights into this trip, not only as a member of the counseling office staff. She is also a parent of a junior and treasurer of the KHS Academic Booster Club.
"I see this trip being offered through the school as a real benefit for the students. The assignment is also valuable, because it starts the students thinking about where they might want to go after graduation and how to gather information on the schools they are interested in attending," Kleikamp said.
"It's a real hands-on experience for our students," she said. "They have the chance to talk to students at the schools we visit, learn about programs offered there, meet with scholarship people and get exposure to the campus through tours. They also find out the requirements each school has as to how long they have to stay in the dorms, for example."
She sees two real benefits to this new program being launched at KHS.
"Going through the process of the application is a great tool," Jayne said. "It teaches the students how to research a school and what information is helpful in comparing schools and ultimately picking the college/university they will attend. The second part of the hands-on experience is to actually visit the schools."
Smithson agrees. "We are extremely excited to make this opportunity available to our students," he said. "It will be very beneficial to them in making their decision on where to attend college."
Kleikamp also feels that starting this process earlier is also a great benefit to the students.
"Many times students don't realize that some programs are time sensitive as well as applying for scholarships at the schools. Often times you need to apply while you are still a junior," she said.
The decision to take the trip in the spring was to make sure the students had the opportunity to see the schools in session and get a feel for what the campuses are like.
During the spring each year is the time that Jayne usually meets with the juniors to discuss school selection and getting prepared for college.
"The light bulb usually goes off for seniors this time of year, but juniors are often not thinking about this right now," she said.
By filling out the application packet, the juniors will find out things like the minimum grade point average and ACT score needed to get into a school/program.
"I think this is a very interesting plan and depending how well this goes this year - the interest level - it's maybe something the Academic Booster Club can continue to support and partner with the school on. Our committee is made up of parents, student representatives and staff and we felt that this trip fit in well with what we are all about," Kleikamp said.
"It puts so many experts right at the students' fingertips during the visits," she said. "We will be spending about 3 1/2 hours at each school."
Getting an early start on the selection process for colleges is also an important part of this application, Kleikamp noted. "And the earlier they make these decisions on where they want to go, the better they are and more likely to get what they want."
Smithson also felt that timing for this process to start for the juniors was a good idea.
"We are hoping the process of going through this application and the visits to campuses will help speed up the decision-making for our students," he said.
"It will make them well-versed and more confident in their decisions. They can also come back from the trip and share information with their peers," Jayne added.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.