Stephanie Roy wanted to attend the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
"And then I saw CSU," said Roy, a junior at Soroco High School. "It was more down-to-earth, and there are more people."
Roy hadn't visited either campus until Tuesday, when she and 10 of her peers loaded onto a school bus in Oak Creek and spent the following 13 hours driving to and touring the University of Wyoming, Wyoming Technical Institute and Colorado State University. The all-day trip, led by school counselor Lisa Idelberg and teacher Brenda Little, was the second time in the past three years the school has taken a group of interested students to visit to regional colleges and trade schools.
"This is part of our counseling focus of getting college information out to students and giving them the opportunity to see (the colleges)," Principal James Chamberlin said.
College-bound students and those considering a post-secondary education need to know if a school is a good fit for them before enrolling, Idelberg said. There's no better way of determining if a school is the right fit than by visiting its campus and talking with school faculty and students.
Still, some Soroco students apply to colleges without knowing much about them, Idelberg said. Giving students the opportunity to visit schools, talk with students, tour dormitories and meet with admissions counselors can be instrumental in preparing a high school student for the next level of education.
"You get more of a flavor for the school and the students who go there," Idelberg said. It's also nice for students to experience the "hustle-bustle" of college life, which can only be seen while a college or university is in session.
Coty Bruggink was the lone senior to go on the trip. For her, the trip was one more chance to see the university she will attend this fall.
"I've already been accepted to CSU, and I wanted to see the campus again," said Bruggink, who had only been to CSU once before. The future fashion designer said it was nice to get familiar with CSU's campus before she arrives as a freshman later this year.
For sophomore Rachel Elston, Tuesday's trip to Laramie and Fort Collins gave her a head start as she begins to think about where she would like to go to school.
"We want to know what to look for," Elston said. "Now we've seen something, and we can compare it to other colleges. It was real helpful."
Sophomore Emily Strait said the one-day trip made her realize she needs to choose a college based on her needs.
"We now know we have to look for what suits our needs best, not just a college with a good reputation," Strait said. "I think it was a good idea for us to go, even if we are just sophomores."
Visiting colleges and other higher education institutions can even have an effect on how a student approaches high school, Idelberg said.
Students such as sophomore Lyall Delamater said talking with university admissions counselors and seeing what it takes to be accepted to some schools will make him take high school more seriously.
Idelberg said she hopes future school-sponsored college visits will take students to a variety of Colorado post-secondary schools, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, Johnson and Wales University and the Art Institute of Colorado.
"I think we need to be looking at all of them," she said.
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