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The college tour, elementary edition

I’ve been on a few college tours with middle schools kids over the years, and what sixth graders notice isn’t that different from what one Brooklyn second grader learned on a visit to a CUNY campus:

They have automatic toilets, he said enthusiastically. I like this college because of the bathrooms – and the computer classes.

The cafeterias and gyms tend to make an impression, too.

My question is, when building college expectations among young children and teenagers, what should educators and tour guides emphasize? Facilities, food, and fun? The nuts-and-bolts of college, like what a major is and the difference between a seminar and a lecture? What they need to do to get in?

What’s right for different grade levels, and how do we help kids envision themselves on the path to college in a way that will actually get them there?

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.