LOWELL | It's never too early to make a plan.
That's what Freshman Academy students learned recently as they visited local colleges and universities to check out the offerings.
"Today's visit to a college was my first ever," said one Lowell High School student on a visit to one of six colleges included in the fact-finding trip.
"I never thought that I could start earning college credits before I graduated from high school,"said another first-year high schooler who's already thinking ahead.
Six school buses with 45 students each, traveled to Purdue University Calumet, Indiana University Northwest, Valparaiso University, South Suburban College, Ivy Tech Community College Valparaiso, or Ivy Tech Community College Gary.
Newly appointed dean of the Freshman Academy, John Becker, said LHS is focused on providing all students with a college readiness emphasis as soon as possible. "We can't start soon enough," Becker said.
Through the efforts of business teachers Robin Leslie, Kathy Nelson and Laurie Hudgens, students selected their destination based on career exploration activities in their Preparing for College and Careers class, a mandatory course for freshmen.
PUC focused on pre-engineering, problem solving initiatives, and college readiness, while Valparaiso University stressed the importance of engaging in a rigorous, four-year high school program.
Students were made aware of tuition costs, and the additional room and board expenses of living on campus versus commuting.
IUN presented students with a strong argument for looking into commuter college. Students were made aware of the correlation between career interest, education required and salary prospects.
"Getting the best bang for your buck" was the resounding theme of the three community colleges.
Students learned they could become certified in an employable career in nine, 12 or 24 months, and earn dual credits while in high school.
South Suburban Community College in South Holland showcased its construction trades and radio and TV production programs. Students learned the importance of strong math skills for carpentry, electricity, pouring foundations, and plumbing.
Ivy Tech Community College in Gary featured the culinary arts, labs and student services, while Ivy Tech Valparaiso provided students with a tour of its manufacturing area for welding, electricity, and insulation installation. In addition, students toured the simulated operating room and ICU unit.