Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Three Days, Eight Campuses: UCHS Students Take a Whirlwind College Tour of Illinois

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.

Touring the campus of Loyola University
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

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


  1. What a great opportunity - so proud of our students and our school!

  2. Yay! Great opportunity for all.

  3. My daughter had the opportunity to not only look at several colleges in a short period of time, but to discuss with her peers what felt right in terms of size of school, academic levels to get in, what programs they are known for, what sports they offered, and see a wide variety of campuses. Thank you Class of 1963!

  4. Question: will there be another trip sponsored? I would have loved for my daughter to have the chance to attend. We have been attempting to schedule tours on our own and I have to say it is hard considering my work schedule and her current school schedule. Are the tours only open to students based on their outstanding academics and citizenship, along with an application essay? How do they publish the information to the students so they can attempt to be included in on the next trip or are the names being submitted by someone or selected by someone?

  5. The Class of 1963 Fund hopes to sponsor an annual trip, but it will depend on funding. This year, students were selected to apply for the tour based on academics and citizenship and participants were chosen based on the essays they submitted. Letters went home to eligible students and their families inviting them to apply,. For more information parents can contact the guidance office at UCHS, 290-4105.