As part of Geneva 2020, 180 ninth-grade students from Geneva High School visited Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Tuesday, Oct. 13. This is the fifth year the Colleges have hosted Geneva’s ninth graders on campus, and the second time the Geneva High School Class of 2019 have visited HWS. The visit was designed to help students gain a fuller understanding of college life and included a series of student, staff and faculty led workshops, tours and panel discussions covering everything from financial aid and the college decision process to dorm living and academic opportunities beyond the classroom.
“The focus of this campus visit was to make sure that all students gained a better understanding of the profound benefits of going to college, and that they are better prepared at the start of their high school careers to work toward the laudable goal of higher education,” says Geneva 2020 Program Coordinator Amy Jackson Sellers. It is hoped that, as part of the larger Geneva 2020 initiative, that the introduction to college life will help improve graduation rates, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career readiness, and better prepare students for college and career success.
On Tuesday morning, students were greeted by Trina Newton, superintendent of the Geneva City School District, before watching a STEM video and attended a panel session devoted to opportunities for STEM careers in Geneva led by Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science John Vaughn P’08, Associate Professor of Biology Kristy Kenyon and Education Program Manager for the Finger Lakes Institute Nadia Harvieux. In subsequent sessions, the ninth graders learned about various aspects of college preparation and life on a college campus.
In the first session, the ninth graders toured campus before attending a student-led “day in the life of a college student” panel discussion that covered topics like workload, course options and student housing. During an “Admissions 101” session, students learned the details of financing their education and choosing the right college. The third session addressed college preparation, encouraging students to think about their futures as they were given information on the application process and how to develop a high school portfolio. The final information session discussed college opportunities such as studying abroad, conducting research, gaining internships, and the advantages of getting involved with campus activities such as sports teams, theatre productions and community service projects. The day concluded with lunch in Saga dining hall.
Rooted in the collective impact model, Geneva 2020 works to ensure that all students in the community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college. The alignment of initiatives, which was established in the 2011-2012 school year, has helped move the high school graduation rate from 70 percent in 2010 to 83 percent in 2015, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74 percent in 2009 to 79 percent in 2013. Since the program’s inception, students from the Geneva City School District make an annual visit to campus as second, sixth and ninth-grade students.
Geneva 2020, which receives funding from The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, a Chicago-based philanthropic family foundation, has recently been in the national spotlight for its impact on the community.
Last year, HWS President Mark D. Gearan was invited by The White House to discuss the success of Geneva 2020 with other national leaders in higher education in Washington, D.C., for the White House College Opportunity Day of Action, a summit focusing on the efforts to expand college access for underserved and low-income students.
In addition, Hobart and William Smith Colleges were recognized nationally last year, as one of only four institutions named as finalists for the President’s Award for Education Community Service in an Honor Roll of nearly 800 colleges and universities considered for the prestigious recognition. Geneva 2020 has been an integral part of the service opportunities taking place at the Colleges.