(WVVA) When you think of students visiting a college campus for the first time, you’re probably visualizing high school students.
This Spring more than two dozen West Virginia middle schools are visiting colleges and universities as part of a forward-thinking program by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
In partnership with the Education Alliance, The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is providing a $1,500 grant to 25 West Virginia Middle Schools to increase student participation in college visits, but primarily to combat a bigger issue, the lack of adults in West Virginia with college degrees.
Allen Smith is Senior Admissions Counselor at Concord University and an alumnus of the college.
“Believe it or not, a lot of kids have never stepped foot on a college campus,” said Smith. “This program helps to get that seed planted in their mind early.”
According to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, less than one-third of West Virginians hold an Associate Degree or higher and 60% will need a certificate or degree to meet future workforce demands.
The “College Visit Grant Program” is giving middle school students a taste of the real college life, so they’ll be motivated to reach higher level credentials after high school.
The students spend an hour visiting the campus, including the classrooms and residential halls.
“We also try to educate them on why it’s important to keep their grades up, so they can get scholarship money,” said Smith. “A lot of students here today are from West Virginia, just like myself and I can identify with them. I can relate my personal experience and say I did this, so you can do this too.”
The grant program is designed to engage 7th grade students in free college visits of public 2-year and 4-year institutions during the Spring season.
Two of the schools participating in the program include Bluefield Middle and Princeton Middle in Mercer County.