On October 2, eighth grade students at Union Middle School had the opportunity to tour a state university in Iowa. Each student chose which university to visit. Forty-six students visited the University of Iowa, 34 students visited the University of Northern Iowa, and 28 students visited Iowa State University. Each group of students took a tour of the university, heard what the school has to offer and some heard from student panels, toured a resident hall, and/or participated in an activity.
"By allowing eighth graders to see what a university has to offer, this may help them with their high school plan," said Mark Albertsen, Union Middle School principal.
The university visits are part of an initiative to help each eighth grade student develop a four-year high school plan, which is required by state law in Iowa Code section 279.61. Students can access www.ihaveaplaniowa.gov to create their course plans that will help them achieve their college and career goals. This also enables them to build an electronic portfolio with assessment results, work experience, college search information, scholarship information, and goals.
It is understood that eighth grade students are not expected to have final college and/or career plans and the plans are expected to evolve. The I Have a Plan Iowa web-based planning tool is designed to build skills needed for success and to help students refine their career options.
This is the first year that middle school students have visited universities and there are further plans to continue this initiative.
"My hope is to offer a community college visit to the seventh graders, so they will have an idea of what is offered at a community college. This year's eighth graders will take a tour of a community college in the spring since they didn't have the opportunity as seventh graders," continued Albertsen.
Parents are encouraged to review their child's plan of study, talk to their child about future goals and plans, and monitor homework. According to I Have a Plan Iowa, career planning should begin as early as possible and students have more success if they form educational plans beginning in middle school.