Road Trip to the Future

How do you the percentage of graduating high school seniors who are going to college?  Addison Train has managed to go from 77% to 87% and they attribute it to getting kids started freshmen year with the goal in mind.

As covered in the Chicago Trib this week, Addison Trail takes each of its 500 freshman students on a college campus visit. When the program first began, the school looked for a local institution that could accommodate five days of 100 visitors in a row, but couldn’t find one.

Enter University of Wisconsin, who beefs up their tour staff for a week and takes the students on a walking tour of the Madison campus. Students see lecture halls, residence halls, the stadium and more in their 90 minute walk.

One of the students admitted thinking that colleges were contained in a single building. As a veteran of the UW/Madison campus tour, let me tell you that misconception was shattered. It is a very large campus.

The administration believes that by starting with the end in mind, by kicking off high school thinking about college from the onset, they help keep kids focused on goals. Heck – I imagine the trip actually creates those goals for lots of kids.

Addison Trail High School is about 54 percent Latino and another 54 percent low-income. Only 18 percent of students’ parents have attended college, according to Principal Scott Helton. He realized that the mystery of college – how to apply, what it was really like – was one of the larger obstacles keeping some of his students from continuing their education.

For some, this trip to Wisconsin from their Illinois school is the first time they were ever out of state.

Is it working? One of this year’s tour guides was a former Addison Trail student. And they’ve seen a 10% increase in seniors planning to attend college.

Congrats to the staff at Addison Trail for stepping outside the box and trying a new approach to an old problem.



Categories: General


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