Greater Allegheny gives area high schoolers an introduction to college life

?What are your classes like??
?What?s it like living in a dorm??
?How do I get financial aid??

These are just a few of the questions asked by high school students at the College & Career Knowledge program recently held at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The questions were asked during peer-led break-out sessions in which high school students had the chance to talk with current college students, learning about student life, academic expectations and social opportunities at a university.

On Nov. 14, 115 high school students attended the program. The program was held in collaboration with the Consortium for Public Education, which organizes College & Career Knowledge events to give students, many of whom are their families? first college applicants, an opportunity to learn about everything from the application process to the perils of being independent of parental supervision for the first time.

The day began with speaker Johnathan White, instructor in history, who led a college-level discussion about black history. The session ran much deeper than a typical high school class, discussing topics such as the lives of and history behind such historical figures as Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, preceding the more publicized Parks incident.

The peer-led sessions were followed by college faculty-led sessions in which students learned about what might be expected of them in their college courses. Faculty from Penn State Greater Allegheny were paired with colleagues from Pitt-Greensburg, California University of Pennsylvania, LaRoche and Point Park. Students learned that in college they will need to better manage their time, read considerably more and utilize good study habits.  ?College advisers say that for every hour spent in class, a student should spend two on research and homework outside the classroom. With a typical 15-credit schedule, that could mean up to 45 hours a week spent on classwork. It can be like a full-time job,? said Lou Anne Caligiuri, admissions director at Penn State Greater Allegheny. ?For most students this is a big change from what they are used to in high school and it takes an adjustment period.?

 High school teachers were able to meet with college faculty as well. This session, led by Erica Clarke, instructor in communications and coordinator of career services, was intended to inform the teachers what college faculty members expect from their incoming students. Clarke also led the final session of the day helping students consider what they needed to do to prepare for college. She asked students to think about why they should go to college. She explained that earning a college degree increases your monthly income, offers greater and more diverse career options, and gives you a higher level of personal and educational growth.

Caligiuri indicated that the team was delighted to have students and their teachers and counselors from Taylor Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick, Yough, South Allegheny and Clairton High Schools, along with the Career and Technical Center. The program represented an important outreach collaboration between academic affairs and the admissions department. It is part of a year-long effort to reach out to our area high schools.