For many kids, thinking about college can seem a little like planning a trip to the moon: it’s far off, mysterious, and a little intimidating. Fortunately, educators at Tucson International Academy (TIA) have found a way to bring the idea down to earth. The annual University of Arizona Campus Tour.
First Glimpse of College Life
Each spring, TIA offers two tours of the University of Arizona campus, one for middle school students and one for high school students. In each tour, approximately 100 students from the four TIA campuses travel by school bus to get their first glimpse of college life.
The tour is led by University of Arizona honor students. The guide leads them to campus hotspots such as the dorms, library, sports complex, and student union, pointing out tidbits of university history along the way.
For Middle School Students
For the middle school kids, the goal of the tour is to eliminate the fear of the unknown. “Familiarity with the campus goes a long way to break down the intimidation factor,” says Renee Arakaki, Chief Operations Officer for TIA.
For High School Students
For high schoolers, the tour aims to give students a feel for normal campus life, from where they might get a haircut to where they can find an ATM. Being guided by an actual college student, and seeing other students come and go helps convey a sense of excitement about living on campus. “They see that college is not a drag, but something to look forward to,” says Arakaki.
At the end of the tour, students watch a short film which gives an overview of how and when to apply for scholarships and financial aid – another helpful element, according to Arakaki: “Teachers can tell them about the application deadlines over and over, but when they hear it from the college, it’s motivating.”
The Tour is a Great Tool
Regardless of whether students choose to attend University of Arizona or another school, the tour is a great tool to help kids visualize themselves as college students, and to make them feel that college is not a distant planet, but just their next step.