The College Awareness and Preparation (CAP) Committee’s third-annual Camp College greatly expanded horizons this year, taking Campers to experience college life at four different universities in the state of Illinois. In line with its mission to reach and service nontraditional, underserved and underrepresented populations, and equip them with the knowledge needed to successfully navigate the college selection and admission process, the large majority of these students were first-generation college students without any immediate family member’s experience to use as a model. This year, 28 campers participated in this year’s camp, from 22 different high schools throughout Illinois. In fulfillment of this same mission, 100% of these students felt that Camp College better prepared them for college.
This year, campers began their journey at Western Illinois University. From experiencing WIU’s orientation, to taking a campus tour, staying in the suite-style student residence halls, and dining in the campus cafeteria, students got a full taste of college life at WIU. After two days, Camp College left for Monmouth College, where campers once more got to experience college life fully, this time at a smaller, private campus. Students spent one night in the newly renovated residence halls and got another sample of college food, this time enjoying a fine-dining experience during the 2013 Camp College Awards Show, where each student was recognized individually for his/her participation in the camp.
On the jam-packed fourth day of camp, students were able to visit two more colleges before making the long trek home. Bright and early in the morning, the group headed to Knox College for a campus tour led by student ambassadors, followed by an engaging student panel during which campers were able to ask current Knox students questions relating to their college experience. From Knox, the group headed to Augustana College to enjoy lunch and tour the campus. Students also received an informational presentation on studying abroad and the value of experiential learning while at Augustana.
During their time at all campuses, Camp College staff filled the students’ days with a variety of workshops covering a wide array of college preparatory topics, including finding the right college fit, being away from home, the importance of maintaining one’s social media reputation, and how to stand out from just your transcripts on college applications. Students were also broken into small groups depending on their intended major of study, and had the opportunity to work closely with mentors within that field to get a better understanding of both the nature of study and nature of work post-college.. Students also had the chance to work on their personal statement for future college applications via two essay writing workshops. Fun and engaging activities, from late-night board games to a camp-wide talent show, filled gaps between and after workshops, helping these campers who started out as strangers to bond and form friendships that will last far beyond Camp College.
For many students, Camp College presented their first opportunity to visit any college or university, and all 28 of them agreed that the ability to visit and experience life at the four different universities, combined with the preparatory workshops throughout the program, helped to solidify their decisions to attend college after high school graduation.