More than 130 eighth-grade students visited the University of Nevada, Reno on Monday, March 6, for Joining the Pack – a pilot program that encourages students to start thinking about going to college before they start high school.
“We’re trying to get these students excited about college earlier than high school,” the University Multicultural Center Indigenous Student Coordinator Markie Wilder said. “We have found that students that begin to think about and start planning for college in middle school are more likely to attend college after high school graduation.”
Students participated in different activities like intramurals, college student panels, campus tours and mindfulness exercises. They also met with faculty and administrative members from the Multicultural Center, Student Services, Counseling Services, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Associated Students of the University of Nevada.
“High school is a little late to be thinking about college, but if students have an idea about wanting to go to college before their freshman year, they’re more excited to be on top of their grades,” Wilder said.
During this pilot program year, students from Vaughn, Sparks, Pine and Dilworth middle schools were invited to campus. Wilder and other coordinators eventually hope to expand the Joining the Pack program to all middle schools in the Washoe County School District.
“We want them to get to know us, so they can stop by The Multicultural Center and it’s no longer the big, scary institution where they don’t know anyone,” Wilder said. “The purpose of this program is really just to get students excited [about college] and to let them know that they belong here, can thrive here and be successful on the University campus.”