In mid-September, twenty University City High School juniors and seniors and their guidance counselors embarked on an exciting and information packed three-day tour of eight Illinois colleges and universities. The students were selected for the trip based on their outstanding academics and citizenship, along with an application essay.
Campus visits are a key component of the high school's efforts to raise awareness about college options and opportunities for all students. Last year the UCHS guidance department began annual visits to local schools for each grade level. This year, the entire freshman class will visit Webster University, the sophomores will visit Washington University, the juniors will visit Mizzou, and the seniors will visit SEMO.
|Touring the campus of Loyola University|
The Illinois trip was generously funded by the UCHS class of 1963, along with contributions from the families of each participating student. As part of their 50th reunion, the class of 1963 established the Class of 1963 Fund, dedicated to funding college visits for University City High School students. It is the hope of Senior Guidance Counselor Katy-Jane Johnson that such funding will allow this trip to become an annual event.
|At The University of Chicago|
The students left St. Louis bright and early on a Thursday morning and traveled via charter bus to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. where they were met by admissions representatives and given a tour of the campus and, according to one of the young participants, "lots of good swag." Next it was on to Eastern Illinois University, and over the course of the next two days stops at DePaul University, Columbia College, Loyola University Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. Each school rolled out the red carpet for the group and gave them a fun taste of what campus life might be like, along with an introduction to the many exciting avenues of academic pursuit available to our bright young scholars.
The motivation for the trip, explains Ms. Johnson, was to expose our students to a wide variety of college campuses in order for them to have a better idea of what is out there. She says that students, "often develop their ideas of college through TV, movies, and other related media and it is depicted in a very one-sided way. Visiting different types of college campuses gives the students the opportunity to experience the feel of a real campus and learn about the amazing opportunities each campus offers students first hand."
|At the Art Institute of Chicago|
Students returned to University City late Saturday night, exhausted but filled with excitement about their collegiate futures. According to Ms. Johnson, "almost all of the students who participated in the trip are now considering schools they would have never thought about before they had the chance to visit them." This sentiment certainly rings true for Melissa Tschampel, whose daughter Claire participated in the trip. Melissa reports that Claire returned from the trip with "a better idea of what 'fit' was best for her to live and work in. She also easily eliminated what wasn't right, which can be just as helpful as finding the right fit. As it turns out, Claire found the school she wants to attend - all because of this great school-sponsored trip!"
University City High School has a distinguished record of sending graduates to top colleges and universities (click here for a list of schools students in the class of 2013 were accepted to). Giving more students the opportunity to visit more campuses will likely increase not only the number of colleges applied to, but the number of students applying to college as well. If you would like to help the Class of 1963 Fund in their efforts to provide more college visits, you can send a check payable to the School District of University City to: Katy-Jane Johnson, Senior Counselor, University City High School, 7401 Balson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130. Please put Class of 1963 Fund on the memo line.
|The entire group in Chicago, in front of Millennium Park's famous "bean"|
Photo by Alexis Kozhevsky
Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Claire Tschampel, UCHS Senior