Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learning About College

In 4th grade this week we are learning about college as part of our careers unit. I think that it is important for elementary school counselors to expose students to what college is and why people go to college as early as possible. Last year when I did this unit, several of the students had already made up their mind that they are never going to college, for various reasons. I think a lot of this is because they don't know what college is or why people go there, especially if no one in their family has gone to college.

Students who have a parent that went to college begin conversations with their children early on about doing their best in school so they can go to college. But students with parents who did not attend college typically are not having these same conversations. This can make a big difference in the future aspirations of the student. Although fourth grade seems to be a little early to be talking about college, I think it's never to early to start forming goals and dreams! Even putting the idea in a students head that college is available to anyone who wants to go can make a big difference.

In our college lesson this week I began by introducing some college vocabulary (tuition, scholarship, major, etc.). I allow the students to ask me any question that they have about college. The first lesson is an introduction to what college is and why people go there. Next week, I will bring pictures and books from the state colleges in our area. We will talk about where each school is located, school colors and mascots, school celebrations and activities, and we will listen to each fight song. I will also bring pictures for students to color for locker signs to show their favorite college if we like! The last week of this unit we will play the Career Pay Day game by MarCo, which connects different careers to levels of education and pay. The biggest questions students have is how long they have to go to school for certain jobs, and how much money they can make! Hopefully this can answer some of their questions.

I haven't been able to find any good curriculums that teach elementary students about college, so for this unit I kind of created my own. If anyone knows of a good curriculum for this topic, please send it my way! I think it is so important to begin encouraging students to go to college at an early age, and I hope to continue to include this lesson as a part of my elementary guidance curriculum.

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