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Program helps high school students experience college life

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Every fall semester, about 100 high school students from Fort Worth are given the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a college student at TCU.

TCU Student YMCA, a group that focuses on college access, organized the “College Student for a Day” program.

Program Director for “College Student for a Day” Meg Mathews said TCU Student YMCA partners with Communities in Schools, an organization that works in public schools to provide students with community support to help them stay in school.

“College Student for a Day” takes place during two days in October and November, with students from approximately three high schools attending each day.

A “College Student for a Day” overnight program is also offered in the spring semester through a collaboration with Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services for the Minority High School Conference, according to the TCU Student Affairs website.

Senior business major and former program director Katelynn Badger said the goal of the program is to show the high school students that going to college is an attainable goal.

Visiting high school students are paired up with a student mentor and follow the mentor around campus, Mathews said.

Mathews said the students sit in on classes, walk around campus, eat in Market Square and experience exactly what a day in college entails. 

There is also a curriculum the mentors go over with the students, Mathews said. This includes information about financial aid, good colleges in the area and other fundamental information that can help in choosing a college.

“We focus on not recruiting students to come to TCU, but just helping students find the school that would be best for them,” Badger said.

Another important aspect of “College Student for a Day” are the follow-up conversations between TCU mentors and the high school students. Mathews said they try to stay in touch on Facebook after the program ends in order to form a lasting relationship. It allows the high schools students to reach out to their mentors during their college application process.

The high school students are not the only people that get something out of the program. Badger said the student mentors are able to improve their communication and leadership skills.

“It is a true service learning experience,” Badger said.

Junior strategic communication major Amanda Jordan said before she participated as a mentor in the program she had no idea that some people's families don't want them to go to college.

"They see it as an impossible financial feat," Jordan said.

Mathews said many of the high school students will be first-generation college students. The goal is for them to understand that college isn’t quite as scary as movies and TV present it.

Jordan said the high school students "gain encouragement and the courage to convince their parents that they are going to college."

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