On Friday, November 7, 2014, KiBe GEAR UP filled their first 23 passenger bus since Alyse Pivovarnik, Site Manager, started 10 months ago. With a complete change in staffing, KiBe GEAR UP has been trying to gain momentum and turn their program into a more college-going rather than high school completion program. This day was monumental in the eyes of the staff as more students are beginning to understand the importance of visiting college campuses!
At 5:45am, before the sun had risen, students boarded the bus in front of KiBe High School, blankets and pillows in hand, to go on a whirlwind, one day college tour aimed at exposing the students to more college options!
First stop: Central Washington University. Students were able to explore Central in a more creative self-tour in the form of a scavenger hunt. As students will be soon navigating college campuses on their own, GEAR UP staff sent students on the hunt for important buildings on campus including a residence hall, the library, the financial aid office, and many more! KiBe students were able to feel the pressure of their first day of class on a big, new campus, and thus they learned the importance of getting to campus early, as well as attending welcome week events! Upon completion of the scavenger hunt-college style, students boarded the bus to head to University of Washington at Tacoma.
Prior to arrival, students were informed about the 3 different University of Washington campuses and the way their degree would read a “University of Washington” graduate regardless of the campus they attended. To our surprise, we were greeted by fabulous fall weather in Western Washington—not a single rain cloud in sight! Albeit a simple college tour, many seniors walked away interested in applying to UW Tacoma despite the fact they were not thinking about applying prior to their visit. Many students could tell through the one hour tour that they would feel comfortable calling UW Tacoma home for the next 4 or so years. To end the tour, students enjoyed the mystery of the echo circle, where you can stand and say something and only you will hear the sound echo! After visiting the student store and buying UW Tacoma swag, along with grabbing a quick bite at the local Pita Pit, students boarded the bus—Seattle Pacific University-bound!
At Seattle Pacific University, the group of students was divided for a tour to allow for a more intimate tour atmosphere. Students were wooed with chocolate chip cookies in the dining commons and later got to see the inside of a triple dorm room. Students at Seattle Pacific took pride in their school as they made positive comments to KiBe students as they walked by about why they should attend SPU. The tour guides both also had a natural enthusiasm for the campus and shared some of their favorite activities. One activity involves the boys each taking a girl from their sister floor out on a friendly date to allow for greater bonding and community. Many students again walked away from the short time on campus excited to continue their education armed with knowledge of another campus they want to apply to. One such student left the front of the group and said in a very serious manner, “Ms. P.” “What’s up,” site manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, responded somewhat concerned by the student’s serious tone. The student continued, “You need to help me apply here!”
After eating dinner on the road and completing their event feedback form, students were able to show the information they gained as Ashley Myers, College & Career Planning Specialist at KiBe, asked questions about the different campuses. For each correct answer, students received a prize collected through donations from community resources such as Gesa Credit Union and colleges. Some would say that those whirlwind, short tours of campus were not as effective as a more focused, in-depth tour and that may be so, but the amount of students that walked away feeling inspired and enthusiastic about continuing their education and even applying to the visited schools was plenty to impress KiBe GEAR UP staff. Doors were opened and dreams were created.