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College Week a big success at Knox

By Mike Waiksnis and Latoya Dixon

Is middle school to early to start thinking about college?

The University of Georgia doesn’t think so, and neither does Knox Middle School.

In a recent publication, the University of Georgia states that students should be thinking about and preparing for college as early as possible.

Knox Middle spent an entire week focusing on colleges and universities to make sure their students are thinking about and preparing for post-secondary options.

College is the gateway to success for many people, so we are working hard to create a college-going culture at Knox. We know how critical this is for our kids, and we want them to be prepared for their future.

Last week, the school teamed up with Crosby Scholars and Communities in Schools to create this weeklong experience for Knox’s students.

The more people we have focused on creating a college-going culture in our kids the better. It takes a concerted effort among all of the adults in a child’s life to promote the importance of working hard in school in order to be prepared for college and create a better quality of life as an adult.

Students learned about different colleges and universities throughout the week, including Catawba College, University of Arkansas, Columbia University, Winston-Salem State University, Clemson University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina and many more.

Every morning, a different teacher appeared on the school’s morning news show to talk about the college they attended, and on Wednesday, students and teachers were encouraged to wear college shirts.

Students also learned college admission requirements. Many students don’t realize that colleges are selective about the students that are admitted and have different acceptance rates.

The point we are trying to make is you have to work hard every single day in order to make it to college. It is not always easy, but we know our kids have the potential to excel in college.

Students signed a college pledge card and posted them in the cafeteria on Wednesday to help them continue to think about the importance of post-secondary education.

On Thursday, students attended a mini-college fair, where representatives from several colleges came to Knox to talk about college and to motivate them to set goals for future success – including attending and graduating college.

Our students were excited to see some of their options after they graduate – research clearly shows that salary increases with the amount of education a person attains.

In addition to the monetary benefit, attending college also opens up a whole new world to students, which is often the most overlooked benefit of college.

For many children, college is the first time they leave home, allowing them to learn how to live in new places and interact with new people as they get to meet people from all over the world and learn about how other people think about things.

Students also learn about a wide variety of topics not always available in elementary, middle and high school and go into greater detail on topics they’re already familiar with.

Earlier in the year, Ashley Dohme, Knox teacher and softball coach, took her team to visit North Carolina State University.

Her students were able to visit the campus, talk with the softball coach and team and experience the feel of a college campus.

After the visit, several of those students said they now plan to attend college. Experiences like this can make a world of difference for our students.

Later this year every student at Knox will have the opportunity to visit one college or university. We feel it is important for our kids to experience the feel of a college campus.

When students are on an actual college campus, it really opens their eyes to the possibilities ahead.

Students will get to tour the campus, talk to current students and professors and hopefully observe some classes and eat in the school cafeteria.

Students are usually amazed at these trips – the college atmosphere is so much different and they love the experience.

Tips for parents who want their middle-school-aged child to attend college:

Students have to work hard every single day, every single class

Your child should do school work each and every night. Even if they do not have assigned homework they should study and read. The most successful students read for at least 20 minutes each night. Reading every day for extended periods increases reading stamina, which is crucial for success in school and standardized testing.

Make sure your child understands that effort equals reward

One of the great secrets of success is hard work. The more your child hears this the better.  However, it is important to note people have to work hard every single day – not just when they want to work hard.  

Your child should take the most rigorous classes

It is important that children challenge themselves. Schools look at the types of courses students take, and harder courses allow students to learn more. While some students may be happy coasting through school, the reality is this is not preparing them for college.

Expose your child to college opportunities

Students should hear all of the adults in their lives talk about college. If you attended college, share your experiences with your child. Even if you did not attend college you can talk to your kids about the different opportunities colleges provide. You can have your child research college entrance requirements, research majors at different schools and learn about the different entrance requirements of different schools. Take your child on a college visit.

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