Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glimpse into College (Virtually): Techy Perks

ITA, as a college preparatory program, offers opportunity after opportunity for students to gain skills that will allow them to succeed in the college environment. Often, though, it is still difficult to get a picture of what being a college student would actually be like. So, for our first choice weekend, I (Elizabeth) designed a session entitled Techy College Kid Perks. The class was meant to give students a new view of college student life from the lens of what resources will be available to them when they begin their journey as college freshmen!

We had a nice sized intimate group with 5 students - two of whom were dressed for the occasion! (Marylin Monroe and the Queen of Hearts - this was the ITA weekend right before Halloween) Sitting around a table together, we began to go through the many resources available to UW Madison students. There was a lot of interest! Students surfed on NAXOS, an online music library that we have free access to through the university at the Mills Music Library Website. To make it interesting, one student in particular would type in random syllables and see what music came up! We had some fun selections - from African drums, to Asian strings. Continuing with music, everyone seemed very interested in the music school calendar; they did not know before that the university has so many cool free concerts going on all the time! There is also the option of listening to some of them online.

The next resource that elicited a lot of excitement was the university timetable. It is the complete listing of all classes happening in a given semester, including location and time. The students were very excited to discover they could actually take a tour and go to college courses before they had graduated from high school! I encouraged them to do so!

Speaking of classes, we also talked about how to find and register for classes. Long gone are the days of my mother's college experience, in which she had to run across campus to different departments to register for classes - now everything is completely done online. This is, however, always a very confusing process for new students at a university; hopefully now this group will feel more confident when it comes their turn! The campus map also came in very handy as I shared with them some of my favorite study spots around campus and described where certain buildings are.

Our end of class project was that each student should choose a library on campus - there are almost 50 of them - to research. In our class, we got to look at the Special Collections library within Memorial Library, the Social Science Library, the Geography Library, the Primate Research Center, and the Chemistry Library. Each student prepared a little presentation in PowerPoint on the library they had chosen. It was enjoyable to hear about each library and especially why each student chose that library. Here are some images from Natalie's presentation:

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how interested the students were in learning more about college and preparing themselves well now. And the students left feeling better equipped for the college experience and well informed about ways they can utilize college technology resources now, even while still in high school! And, the resources covered here are only a tiny slice of what's out there!

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