Juniors and seniors at St. Charles High School are getting a
taste of college campus life before they graduate.
In what counselors believe is the only such program in the
county, they take bus loads of students several times a winter to
college campuses around the state. On these one-day trips, students
get a first-hand look at the campuses and a chance to talk to
administrators. Best of all, they are able to talk to St. Charles
High graduates attending those universities.
The students' interests dictate which schools they visit, said
John Smith, head counselor at the high school. In order to go, the
students must have a grade-point average of at least 2.0. They go
on school time, and the only cost for them is their share of the
bus trip and lunch, a total of $20 to $30.
Smith said he came up with the idea when he took his daughter
and several of her friends to visit Southwest Missouri State
University in Springfield in 1989. "It just kind of evolved," he
said. He took his first group of students from school in 1990.
This past fall, he and John Prinster, the other counselor involved,
took 43 students to the University of Missouri at Columbia, 38 to
Lindenwood College, 33 to Northeast Missouri State University at
Kirksville and 25 students and three parents to Southwest.
The program, said Prinster, can change minds. After a trip,
some students find they know where they don't want to go. "They're
better able to make a choice," he said. "It's most important to
have as much information as they can have."
A sampling of students who have gone on trips this winter
indicates they feel it's time well spent.
Junior Andrea Konnerth took trips to Northeast and Southwest.
Both have education programs and equestrian teams, two of her
interests. Because of what she found on the trips, she's leaning
toward Southwest, which has a larger education department.
She said there's an advantage to visiting a campus on an
organized trip with a group. "You get an overview. Everything is
pretty well set up and more organized."
She still plans on returning to the schools with her parents to
take a closer look at what they have to offer.
Senior Jason Callaway wants to study psychology in college.
After visiting both the Springfield and Columbia campuses, he said,
he "felt more comfortable at MU. It felt more homey." Without the
trips, he said, he probably would not have had any idea of what to
"It was a fun experience to get the tour of the colleges and
see what the campus is like," he said. "You can ask any question
you have, and they'll have an answer for it. …