Kindergarten to College

Blacksburg, Va. Mar. 31- ALL EYES ON ME: Student athlete and senior Brandon Fiala speaks to students from Carver and East Salem Elementary School during a Kindergarten to College tour.

by Blayne Fink–

Given the success and campus-wide involvement of Virginia Tech’s Kindergarten to College program, otherwise known as K2C, it might come as a surprise to some that it actually began as a simple favor to a friend.

Susan Magliaro, the director of the program and professor emerita at Virginia Tech, received a call from a principal in Prince William County asking if she could bring her fifth-graders to campus for the day. Eight years later, K2C welcomes roughly 1,000 fifth graders from over ten different Title I schools to campus each spring semester.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, a Title I school is a school that receives particular financial assistance due to the school’s high percentage of children from low-income families. For Magliaro, being a Title I school is a key prerequisite for engaging in the program.

“We only work with Title I schools because we are trying to target kids who may not actually envision themselves being able to get to college,” said Magliaro. “So we wanted to give them that opportunity.”

Although the name might suggest otherwise, the program provides a day in the life experience of a college student to fifth graders from across the Commonwealth. As the program has expanded over the years, Magliaro has worked to incorporate nearly every aspect of Virginia Tech into the students few hours spent on campus.

The day begins with a short seminar about Virginia Tech, career opportunities that come with a college degree, and the questions that many students have about college life, including where they sleep and who does their laundry.

Following the introduction, the students, who are placed into specific color groups of roughly 10 to 15 kids prior to arrival, bounce around between buildings such as, Derring, the New Classroom Building, the WARE lab, and Goodwin Hall, engaging in a number of activities during the morning hours. For the most part, these STEM based activities are put on by undergraduate or graduate students.

Once their time in various classrooms across campus comes to an end, the students then enjoy an a la carte style lunch from the D-2 dining hall. Here, every single color group has an opportunity to engage with members of the Corps of Cadets, who eat lunch with the students. The day then concludes with a tour of Cassell Coliseum and Lane Stadium, as well as a short question and answer session with student athletes prior to departure.

Because the program is currently in its eighth year of operation, the impact of Kindergarten to College can now be quantified through data, something Magliaro is excited to explore in the coming years.

“We are just starting to see if those kids [from the first year] are going to college and where they go, if they do go anywhere,” said Magliaro. “So we are starting to collect that data.”

While it would be much easier in regards to gathering such statistics if all of the K2C participants ended up at Virginia Tech, Magliaro explains that the goal of the program is ultimately to spark the planning stages of a future that includes going to college.

“While we would love to have them come to Tech, the major message is to stay in and finish high school and go to college.”

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