On Wednesday, October 28, 13 GEAR UP students from Kiona Benton High School along with two cohort parents, Kiona Benton High School Counselor, Belinda Loy, and GEAR UP Site Manager, Alyse Pivovarnik boarded a bus to Eastern Washington University (EWU). Students attending the trip had to have a 1.5 cumulative GPA, be passing all their classes currently, and complete a pre-visit worksheet answering why they wanted to attend, what majors they were interested in at EWU, and questions they still had about college.
Eastern Washington University did an awesome job creating an informative, productive day visit for the participants. Upon arrival, students were greeted by friendly EWU staff and taken on a tour of the campus. Because GEAR UP Site Manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, sent in responses she had received from the pre-visit worksheet to EWU staff in advance, the student tour guide was able to point out some of the buildings and resources KiBe students were specifically interested in. Upon completing the campus tour, students were able to experience dining in Tawanka Hall. Many were nervous about how it all worked, where to sit, and how to return used dishes. They were able to safely learn by doing as they were surrounded by peers and supportive staff.
Stuffed from the all-you-care to eat set-up, students were relieved to be sitting during the latter part of the day. The participants heard about academics and student life at EWU. The cohort parents were able to get their pressing questions answered. This overview of the campus was followed by a student panel. Three EWU students ranging in experiences, majors, years in school, and involvement were present to respond to any burning questions the students had. At first, the questions came slowly, but once the KiBe students started to connect more and more with the current EWU students, it was difficult to end that part of the visit and move on to the personal statement and financial aid presentation. During the break between sessions, several students ignored taking a restroom/ snack break so they could continue the conversation with the EWU students.
KiBe students and parents learned what it takes to write a good personal statement for college admissions as well as scholarship applications. As “How am I going to pay for college?” is one of the most frequent questions that arises, it was important for students and parents to hear from EWU staff how to make college affordable. To end our visit, students went through EWU’s VOCAL lesson. The lesson asks students to evaluate their hopes for higher education, fears of higher education, hopes if they don’t pursue higher education, and fears of not pursuing higher education. One topic that arose in every single category was money-if you don’t pursue higher education, you hope to make money right away, but a fear is that without higher education you don’t make enough money to support yourself and family. Likewise, if you pursue higher education you hope to make more money in your lifetime, but at the same time a fear of higher education is not being able to pay for it. It was important for students to see that no matter which path they choose to follow after high school, money is always a concern. After making their lists, Nathan Marney, EWU Admissions Advisor walked through aspects of a campus students should focus on in making their college decision. The VOCAL acronym stands for Value, Opportunity, Community, Academics, and Location. Although these five items may be arranged in various orders depending on how important they are to a student, these are aspects they should rank when looking at college options.
Alyse Pivovarnik usually tries to fit two campuses into a single day visit due to how far the campuses are from Benton City, but she was very pleased with her decision to focus solely on EWU. The students were more engaged than in previous visits, she had many students attending that had not attended a visit in the previous year, and it was the first time cohort parents had taken her up on the offer to join the visit. Overall, the trip was a huge success for Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP.