ADDISON – As part of an ongoing effort to help students prepare for life beyond high school, Addison Trail High School provides a variety of college visits for students.
“We’ve been doing college visits up to the University of Wisconsin for several years now,” said Addison Trail Principal Adam Cibulka.
The college trips are part of the school’s College and Career Readiness Plan. While the first freshman trip to the Madison school was in 2006, Addison Trail sophomores visited Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. this month for the second year.
Over the course of three days, Sept. 10 to 12, every sophomore student took a tour of the ISU campus. They were all treated like perspective students.
“It gives them a little bit different feel with Wisconsin being such a big school,” Cibulka said about the sophomore trip to ISU’s smaller campus.
The school’s large size was one reason Addison Trail started with college visits there. Because each class at Addison Trail contains about 500 students, tour logistics can be challenging, but an Addison Trail staff connection and the University of Wisconsin’s resources made the trip possible.
“It’s a big tour so not every school has the help on campus to accommodate that level of students,” Cibulka said.
Last year, Addison Trail sophomore Marina Stokes visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison where her sister is a freshman now, and this year she got to compare it to ISU.
“I liked the quad they had,” said Stokes about the ISU campus. “It made it feel more like home.”
Upperclassmen are encouraged to go on college visits of their choice. The idea is to educate students about their opportunities after high school.
Addison Trail’s College and Career Readiness Plan aims to expose high school students to a rigorous curriculum, help them achieve high grades and test scores, and encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities.
Cibulka explained that the college trips allow students to do more than just explore the campuses. Addison Trail students also learn about the requirements each school has for admission, including ACT scores, grades and school or community involvement.
“I think it’s good to see [colleges] so I do have time to think about different campus and see which one I would like better,” said Stokes who hasn’t yet made a decision on where she would like to attend college.
In addition to college visits, Addison Trail faculty and staff plan other events to get students thinking about life after high school. Many of them occur in September since October is often the month when seniors submit college applications.
“It makes sense to the students that way,” Cibulka said about scheduling college and career events around the same time.
On Tuesday, 200 Addison Trail seniors spent their day visiting colleges in smaller groups or working on applications at school as part of the annual senior college jamboree.
During lunch Wednesday, Addison Trail students had the opportunity to learn about 95 different colleges at a college fair. Twice a year, the high school invites college representatives, and the next fair will be in April.
Thursday, students also had the chance to explore other career paths at a lunch time career fair. Cibulka said a school counselor also works with students interested in manufacturing careers, cosmetology, fire science or other fields that may require different education or training paths than traditional college.
The high school, however, did see a four-percent increase in student acceptance rates to two-year and four-year colleges from 88 percent to 92 percent since last year.
“That constant message of planning for life after Addison Trail is paying dividends,” Cibulka said.