Western Washington University’s Carver Gym was buzzing with fifth-grade energy one day in October, as nearly 900 students filed into the gym in the heart of the Bellingham campus.
The gym had all the noise and excitement of a pep rally before a big game, rocking with the sound of the college band as Western’s Viking mascot high-fived his way across the room and cheerleaders thrashed pom-poms onstage.
These 10- and 11-year-olds are on the cusp of an important transitional phase in their lives.
In the next few years, the way they perceive themselves — as smart, average, college-bound or not — may change the trajectory of their educational careers.
Western’s goal: convince them that college should be part of their educational trajectory, first by reaching out to them with the fall field trip, and then by sending college students into their classrooms to mentor and tutor them all the way through middle school and high school.