College for Kids Immerses Local Elementary and Middle School Students in the College Experience
Posted: 7/28/2016

Instructor Laura Hodge leads her “Musical Theatre Camp” class in a warm-up before their production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Photo: Instructor Laura Hodge leads her “Musical Theatre Camp” class in a warm-up before their production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

CHULA VISTA, CA – It was a seemingly normal day inside Southwestern College classrooms recently. A biology class was learning about chromosomes and mitochondria, clay was being transformed into works of art inside the poetry studio, 3D models were being created in Photoshop, architecture structures designed for homeless people were being finalized and a production of “Alice in Wonderland” was warming up for their afternoon performance.

But these summer classes weren’t filled with the usual adult Southwestern College student. Instead, they were filled with gifted young elementary and junior high school students who couldn’t wait another 10 to 15 years to take college classes.

Each summer for the past 42 years, the College for Kids program has partnered with local South County school districts to give fifth- through ninth-grade students the opportunity to spend two weeks taking classes at Southwestern College. The program offers two, two-week sessions each summer and fills those sessions with workshops and classes in arts, sciences, technology and culture.

This year, more than 550 students participated in the program, said Dr. Mark Meadows, director of Continuing Education, who organizes College for Kids. For Meadows, evolving the program is an important part of putting it together. This year alone, College for Kids added five new classes, including cartoon caricature, sports science, cinematography and a Philippine culture class. As a former kindergarten teacher, Meadows’ favorite part of College for Kids is seeing the kids’ infectious energy and enthusiasm each year at Southwestern College.

“This program is so good for them, they’re in a college environment and it just gives them new experiences,” Meadows said. “The students get exposed to content, instruction and disciplines that they might not get in their K-12 education.”

Mikaela Gonzalez, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Rancho Del Rey Middle School, has been coming to College for Kids for the past four years and has taken architecture, painting, keyboard and poetry classes. Gonzalez said she loves the way the programs give her a taste of what college is all about.

“We actually have to find the classrooms and figure out where they are, like real college students would,” Gonzales said. “The teachers at this campus are so nice and they help you get new ideas and become more creative. Like, last year, I took Homes for the Homeless and I learned about why people are on the streets and how we can help them.”

Students work on creating temporary, lightweight homeless shelters in the “Homes for the Homeless” class.
Photo: Students work on creating temporary, lightweight homeless shelters in the “Homes for the Homeless” class.

Parents see many benefits in enrolling their children in the program, like independence, social skills and collaboration, as well as exposing them to the opportunities available when they graduate high school. Andrea Limon enrolled her youngest daughter, Sofia, in College for Kids because she had enrolled her two oldest children in the program. They eventually attended college at San Diego State University and Southwestern College. The program, she said, was so influential to their path to higher education.

“To me, as a parent, it’s important to expose Andrea to college in a fun way,” she said. “It teaches her that college doesn’t have to be scary. My two oldest encouraged her to come and they told her, ‘you have to go, it’s a great experience.’ It really exposed them to what’s out there and the variety of things that they can do.”
SWC News Room Graphic
Recent Posts
Each summer for the past 42 years, the College for Kids program has partnered with local South County school districts to give fifth- through ninth-grade students the opportunity to spend two weeks taking classes at Southwestern College.... READ MORE
As you know, Dr. Nish’s last day with the District is today, June 30. Once again, the Board is thankful to Dr. Nish for her dedicated work for the District over the last several years, and we wish her the best in her future personal and professional endeavors.... READ MORE
Southwestern College has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Education for its Second Chance Pell pilot program, a nationwide program that provides incarcerated Americans the opportunity to receive the Federal Pell Grant to defray the financial costs of higher education. ... READ MORE
Southwestern College is closing the achievement gap and rewriting the rules on student success through a rapidly expanding program that embeds trained tutors in the classroom to provide immediate help when needed and to offer follow-up sessions afterward in a campus study center.... READ MORE
The Southwestern College Governing Board approved the college’s tentative budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year at its June 14 meeting. The $114.9 million spending plan includes $98.6 million—more than 85 percent of the budget—for personnel expenses, including $3.9 million to fund 58 vacant positions.... READ MORE
The Southwestern College Governing Board unanimously voted at its June 14 meeting to refinance a portion of Proposition R bonds to give taxpayers a potential savings of approximately $13.4 million.... READ MORE
The Southwestern College community gathered Tuesday for a candle light vigil organized by the Associated Student Organization (ASO) in honor of the Orlando shooting victims. ... READ MORE
This has been a weekend of mourning as we have tried to understand the murder of 49 and the wounding of 53 of our brothers and sisters in Orlando, Florida. The hate and prejudice that precipitated these acts must not be the behavior that defines us. ... READ MORE
Southwestern College will join Minority Male Community College Collaborative’s (M2C3) first consortium dedicated to improving and advancing the success of men of color as well as students from historically underserved communities. ... READ MORE
The Campaign for College Opportunity together with the California Business Roundtable honored three local San Diego community colleges on June 2nd in Sacramento for being statewide leaders in significantly increasing the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT).... READ MORE