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K-State Today

January 18, 2012

Are you ready for some college?

By Andrew Zender

Miguel Ramos, Garden City, Kan., a junior majoring in business marketing, gives high school students a campus tour during an April 2011 College for a Day visit.

For many of us who attended K-State, the question of whether we'd apply to college wasn't much of an issue. It was more like an eventuality. So imagine being a senior in high school and believing that college isn't even an option.

"There are a lot of kids out there who don't know they can go to college," said Dawne Martin, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Business Administration at K-State. "If their parents aren't college educated, if their school counselors don't push universities, they don't know."

This is especially true for multicultural students and students from inner-city schools. These students often face so many financial and cultural barriers, they're actually discouraged from applying.

"They're told they can't do it," Martin said. "So they're never taught why it's important to go to college, or why they need to keep their grades up."

In 2007, K-State partnered with several corporations and a Kansas-based foundation in an effort to increase the percentage of diverse students on campus, and expand education and outreach to multicultural students in Kansas communities.

The College for a Day program, supported in full by the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, is just one way K-State accomplishes this mission.

"Our goal is to change the way these students think about their lives," said Liz Koch, president of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation. "We want to help young people envision the possibilities open to them and what more they can achieve if they pursue a college education. The opportunities are endless."

"We bring in busloads of students at a time, probably 400 to 600 students per year," Martin said. "They make initial contact with admissions representatives, tour the campus — find out what K-State is like." The students also participate in three interactive sessions, where they learn about investment and risk, as well as accounting and finance.

The College for a Day program is fast becoming a key step in creating a pipeline that will guide multicultural students through their academic careers at K-State and beyond.

"At the end of the day, we talk to them about what they need to do when they get back home and go back to school," Martin said. "We really try to drive that message home that what they do now in high school impacts their lives in terms of their careers."