COLLEGE BOUND: The campus connection

February 28, 2012

College of Education supports college prospects for youth from Chicago, other urban areas

Students from King College Prep High School in Chicago check out a collection of MSU Men’s Basketball memorabilia on display in the concourse during a tour of the Breslin Center.

Getting a private tour of the basketball facilities at Breslin Center isn’t a common occurrence.

Especially if you are a high school student in inner-city Chicago.

But it was part of the experience when Michigan State University welcomed 50 students from King College Prep High School to campus last fall. A longer-than-average college visit, the trip meant traveling about five hours each way to explore the admissions requirements, academic options and, yes, athletic excitement of a Big Ten institution up close.

And there was a long wait list to get a seat on the bus.

Assistant Dean Sonya Gunnings-Moton, who helped coordinate the first-time event on behalf of the College of Education, said the presence of MSU teaching interns at King appears to be making an impact on the college-going culture of the school, which puts a heavy emphasis on post-secondary preparation. When the school surveyed students about which institutions they wanted to visit for the annual “King Goes to College Day,” Michigan State was the top pick.

”Every year, there are student teachers from MSU leading their classes and that intrigues them,” said Kyle Shack, an MSU/Chicago teaching intern who traveled with the group. “It really provides perspective on leaving their comfort zone. The idea of going to Michigan for college is a little scary and talking to someone who’s been there is something they appreciate.”

Currently, Shack is one of six interns – and at least two alumni – from the MSU teacher preparation program who serve as Spartan role models while teaching at King. The university has been able to develop deep relationships with several Chicago schools since the internship program expanded to the Windy City in 2008.

“We have a set of pipeline initiatives with Detroit that is focused on preparing urban youth for college and the professional preparation of future urban educators,” said Gunnings-Moton. “This is our way of springboarding that kind of relationship with Chicago Public Schools.”

In addition to the internship, the College of Education recently began accepting Chicago high school students into the annual Summer High School Scholars program, a four-week experience on campus designed to elevate the college readiness of students from urban communities.

The College of Education is committed to increasing the number of low-income, minority and first-generation students attending college – especially as education and kinesiology majors – through its own programs and partnerships with organizations such as the Young Educators Society and the new Detroit Public Schools/Higher Education Consortium. Many efforts involve visiting campus and observing successful students or working teachers in action.

Like many aspects of the College Ambition Program, the College of Education also focuses on helping young people visualize their success in higher education.

“We provide whatever opportunities we can to have students see, experience and feel what it is we truly hope they will attain,” said Gunnings-Moton. “We’re trying to make it real.”