College may be five years away for most of them, but nearly 20 eighth and ninth graders spent several hours on the campus of The Catholic University of America, including the Columbus School of Law, building their understanding of what it takes to thrive in higher education.
Their July 11 visit was sponsored by Horizons Greater Washington, a six-week summer enrichment program designed to help a diverse population of children from area low-income families to develop a lifelong interest in learning, advance academic gains over the summer, and improve achievement in school.
A number of local schools, including Washington D.C.’s Maret School, support the Horizons program by donating their campus and facilities for use. Staff members are also encouraged to serve as volunteers. The Maret School has arranged the annual summer visit to the CUA campus for several years.
The youngsters were greeted at the law school by Professor David Lipton, whose daughter, Julia, serves as Director of Programs of Horizons Greater Washington.
Professor Lipton clearly and concisely explained the complicated world of higher education to the group. He covered the difference between a college and a university, what kinds of degrees are offered by graduate schools, and touched upon the most important question: should everyone make going to college a goal?
“Some people want to go to college to learn how to learn. When you receive new information, you begin to ask yourself, ‘what does this mean?’ It’s a nice skill to have,” said Lipton. “My thought is, try it. See if you like college.”
The students were also give a partial tour of the law school’s DuFour Library, where they were allowed to sample the mechanics of online research. Other stops on the campus included a tour of a dormitory room, a visit to the CUA gym, and a pizza lunch at the university’s Pryzbyla student center.
The Horizons program begins in kindergarten with students continuing through grade eight. More than 90% of students return to the program each year. It serves children from low-income families and a broad spectrum of academic abilities. The curriculum emphasizes reading, language arts, math computer, science, art, and music.